Complaints about property raffles to be referred to estate agents’ regulator from now on

Complaints about property raffles will now be referred to industry regulator the National Trading Standards for Estate and Letting Agents (NTSELAT).

The referrals will be made by the Advertising Standards Authority after 90 complaints about property raffles since 2015.

NTSELAT’s remit currently covers only estate and letting agents. The jurisdiction does not, for example, cover consumers who sell privately and who are currently exempt from the Estate Agency Act.

Usually it is consumers, the house owners, who organise property raffles, although some are run via a third-party platform – and both of these could now be treated under the law as estate agents.

The ASA says that running a property raffle could “ultimately be a legal issue which falls under the Estate Agency Act 1979”.

It says that promoters therefore have to follow “certain rules including adhering to Anti Money Laundering Regulations and membership to an approve redress provider”.

However, NTSELAT will now look into complaints about property raffles, acting as a referral point.

For example, it could direct complaints to the Gambling Commission where it suspects an illegal lottery. If found to be in breach, local Trading Standards can take action.

If the trader is found to be operating under the definition of estate agency work, NTSELAT itself can investigate.

The new process kicks in with immediate effect.

Previously ASA rulings have been issued where the raffles are closed, and where the house itself is never awarded although a lesser cash prize has been offered. The ASA says that without clear explanation, this could be seen to be a misleading action under Consumer Protection Regulations.

Miles Lockwood, director of complaints and investigations at the ASA, said: “We’re pleased to have found a constructive new way to manage complaints in this area.”

James Munro, senior manager at NTSELAT, said: “Raffles offering a property as a prize could violate the requirements of the Estate Agents Act 1979 as the promoter of the raffle could be classed as doing estate agency work.”

“If this is the case, they will be required to comply with all the rules governing estate agents, including declaring a personal interest and keeping appropriate records.”

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