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Estate agency scandal shows Trading Standards work is vital - claim

The work of the National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team is “vital” it claims - and the case of the banned agent receiving a custodial sentence proves the point.

Yesterday Estate Agent Today exclusively covered a story about a banned agent who received a custodial sentence of six weeks, suspended for two years, and who was fined £4,000 after pleading guilty to unlawfully engaging in estate agency work.

An investigation by the National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team revealed Amerjit Singh Dhuga - better known as Bobby Singh - was playing an active part in running the Love Your Postcode agency, despite being banned from engaging in estate agency work in 2013. 

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Now Lord Toby Harris, chair of National Trading Standards, says this proves how vital the work of NTSELAT really is.

Lord Harris states: “Buying or renting a home is a major financial transaction for people and it is important that the public can rely on legitimate estate agents to provide a professional service. 

“Working as an estate agent while banned is against the law and we will take action against dishonest fraudsters who try to con the public. 

“This investigation demonstrates the vital role of the National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency team in protecting consumers and safeguarding legitimate practice within the estate agency sector.” 

If you missed the story yesterday afternoon, it was told to a court that between August 2016 and November 2020, Dhuga deceived customers by continuing to work as an estate agent despite previous convictions for fraud and breaching consumer protection regulations.

He pleaded guilty to engaging in estate agency work while prohibited and two offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. 

A NTSELAT statement says he had engaged in estate agency work and engaged in a practice which was a misleading action and contravened the requirements of professional diligence.

The investigation also found that Love Your Postcode Limited provided valuations to several consumers which were lower than the For Sale price, often to the sum of £10,000 less, to which Love Your Postcode Limited would retain as a ‘Performance Fee’ as well as the usual commission.

 

 

Love Your Postcode Limited also pleaded guilty to breaching professional diligence requirements by failing to declare to customers that Dhuga could not lawfully undertake estate agency work. 

The company has been fined £16,000 which was reduced to £12,000 because of its early guilty pleas. Collective prosecution costs were £5,000 and there was a victim surcharge of £170.

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