An estate agency will pay out over £40,000 after being found to have misled customers and allowing one of its own staff to value a home they wanted to buy for themselves.
Media in Bournemouth report that Illsley and Son Ltd, trading as Meridian Estate Agents, was charged with 11 offences under the Unfair Trading Regulations and admitted nine of them.
Those were five counts of trader engaging in a commercial practice which is a misleading action containing false information, three of trader engaging in a commercial practice which is a misleading omission and one of trader knowingly or recklessly engaging in a commercial practice.
Two charges of trader engaging in a commercial practice which was aggressive were dropped by prosecutors. The latter two counts had alleged that threats were made to withhold a buyer’s access from a property until a purchasing fee was paid.
Matthew Illsley, the director of the business, was also initially charged with 11 offences under the Unfair Trading Regulations but all of these allegations were dropped before a trial.
The Bournemouth Echo says a court last week heard that a series of false claims were made to both vendors and buyers.
This included the company telling a buyer interested in a property that they needed to help with vendors' fees, when in fact the vendor wasn't required to pay a fee at all.
Another buyer was informed that they had to pay the commission fee as the vendor didn't want to pay it - although in reality the agency had offered the vendor a zero per cent commission deal. In another example the agent failed to advise that VAT was payable on the fee.
In yet another charge, Meridian allowed an employee to value a home knowing they had a personal interest in it. A false statement was then made regarding the payment of a commission fee.
In total, the agency was fined £5,500. Compensation of £24,364 and costs of £10,000 were also ordered, alongside a £170 victim surcharge.
As a result, the company, which was prosecuted by Bournemouth council’s trading standards team, must now pay out £40,034.
You can see the full report here.