There’s a warning from an industry trade body that some agents may have failed to take compliance obligations seriously enough.
Paul Offley, compliance officer with The Guild of Property Professionals, warns that some agents believe compliance checks by authorities - and the fines that go with them if an agency is lax - will never happen to them.
“[They think] that because they have done something in a certain way before, they can carry on doing it that way regardless of whether it is compliant or not, and on occasions an agent may claim as a defence ‘well no other agent in this town does it’” says Offley
“However, we have seen that with the increase of complaints and claims and with enforcement and fines within the sector, that simply is not the case and agents who are lax about compliance run the risk of incurring a possibly crippling financial penalty.”
Offley says that while the majority of estate agents would not knowingly act in a non-compliant manner, because there are so many facets within an estate agent’s job that need to be considered, it is very difficult to consistently ensure that all aspects and issues are handled in the right manner at all times.
“With the vast number of plates that agents need to keep spinning, it is possible that one plate could stop and if left unchecked the plate that has stopped spinning becomes the norm and that’s where issues arise.
“To avoid this happening, agents should do a regular compliance checks to ensure all aspects of their business is being dealt with in the right way, and if not, it is important for them to reassess what needs to be done to get their business back on track.”