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Mystery of agency charging vendor five years after failing to sell home

Mystery surrounds the identity of an estate agency which has been accused of charging a seller five years after the home was listed.

Paul Telford, who now runs a For Sale By Owner website, has issued a statement making the allegation but without revealing the name of the agency. 

He says his home was on the market back in 2011 with what is described as “a local high street agent in Doncaster.”


He says that as a result of no interest from buyers and what he calls “a lack of pro-active effort from the agent in question” he withdrew his property from the market.

Five years later, Telford sold the property himself but says he then received a letter “out of the blue” requesting payment from the agent he had instructed initially.



Telford’s statement says: “Having not paid the £500 cancellation fee due to the lack of service when originally selling his house, the agent had kept Paul on their books and despite having no hand in the successful sale years down the line, decided to charge Paul due to the sole agency agreement restrictions in the original contract.”

The statement then describes this as an “archaic and backhanded tactic” which led him to start his website, OkayLah.

“We fully appreciate that there are plenty of great estate agents out there but unfortunately, there are also those that continue to give the industry a bad name and more often than not this means the consumers experience of selling a property is a negative one – as was the case for myself” he says.

OkayLah launched at the back end of 2017 and completely by-passes all kinds of agents, charging £35 or £65 for different packages.

It requires sellers to upload their own descriptions and photos, which stay on the website for as long as they wish, and included in the higher fee is a For Sale or To Let board.  

Sellers are advised to check the Land Registry for recent comparable sales in order to arrive at an asking price. The website advises: "Every home is unique, so the best person to decide how much your property is worth is you."

Poll: Should the agency still have charged the vendor in this instance?


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    Come on EA. This is not even a story. The agent wouldn’t have a leg to stand on, even if true. Paul Telford, who no one has ever heard of, not naming a mystery agent. Journalism at its worst.

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    I agree Tony.......complete rubbish journalism! An advertisement wrapped up in ridiculous story.....come on EA....there are other online trade websites you know !

  • Lenny White


  • Andrew Ireland

    Unfair contract terms Act, Limitations Act, Common Law concerning the basis of a Contract, i.e. agreement between two parties for a service, action or an item etc in exchange for consideration, so where's the service delivery............all legal bars to a successful remedy for the agent in this case.

    If the storey were accurate , then the agents would have been uncommonly thick, with no thought to future reputation and or flow of future instructions.

    I agree with Tony and Mr Road, basis of the storey doesn't stack :(

  • Martin Williams

    Hang on chaps.... small matter of £500 withdrawal fee unpaid due to "lack of service" which means because it didn't sell the agent did nothing ! ( we all know that's not true) the vendor should have been pursued for the £500 at the time as presumeably it was in the TOB he would have signed. The article does make it clear what fee is now being sought. (commission or withdrawal fee ) or "cancellation fee" as the vendor calls it.

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    The cancellation fee, yes, unless there was a complaints procedure followed due to lack of action.
    If he sent in a letter instructing them to withdraw the property, and they didn't then that is their own fault.

    How did they deal with enquiries over those 5 years? "Soz, he won't pay us to take it off, so we are still advertising it even though he isn't going to sell it. Sorry to have wasted your time, made you spend money to call us and have raised your hopes! TTFN, think of us when you want to sell though!"

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    Unpalatable as it may seem, I believe the Agent has a reasonable chance of success in the claim for £500 provided the charge was stated within the terms of the contract.
    The four parts of a contract are Offer, Acceptance , Intention to create a legal binding agreement and consideration (usually money). These parts would been created by the signing of the TOB. To make the contract enforceable three other elements have to be present, Mutual Consent, Legality and in
    Writing. These parts do not appear to be disputed by Mr. Telford
    I am not aware of any Agent that contracts to enact a completed sale, conducted a definitive number of vieiwngs or procure a defined level of interest etc. Service levels are not therefore the "Consideration" part of the agreement and highly unlikely to be the "Offer" part of the contract.
    The liability of payment of fee when sold by another Agent under a Sole Agency agreement is well established.
    UCTA imposes limits on the extent to which liability for breach of contract, negligence or other breaches of duty can be avoided by means of contractual provisions such as exclusion clauses. As previously stated, Mr Telford would have to prove that the terms of contact that he signed were unfair for the purpose for which he entered into the contract. How many Agents believe they have unfair TOB's ?
    Limitations Act - The statutes of limitation are to protect defendants. In cases of monetary claims, the time limit is 6 years so after 5 years, the Claimant is entitled to seek payment.
    Sadly, bad service and not achieving a desired outcome does not itself constitute breach of contract.


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