Shocking statistics revealed about non-compliance by agents

Most agents are well aware that in the course of their work they are subject to numerous statutory rules and regulations as well as the need to adhere to certain ‘best practices’ as required or recommended by professional and trade bodies.

At the TPO Conference in Solihull this week one of the speakers was Peter Stonely, who has more than 20 years’ experience as a Trading Standards Officer.

In the course of his presentation he referred to statistics that, if correct, are truly shocking and call into question the overall level of compliance being exercised by the estate agency and letting industry.

According to Stonely, one particular Trading Standards office in an urban area recently looked at their local market and the 107 agents operating within it.

All the agents’ websites were vetted for membership of a redress scheme and membership of bodies such as ARLA, NAEA, RICS, SAFEAgent, NALS, TPO.

The following results were obtained:

Number of agents without a website or their website unavailable: 9

Number of agents who have not joined a redress scheme: 13

Number of agents who have not publicised their fees: 51

Number of agents who are misusing logos in claiming to belong to a trade association when they do not: 14

Number of agents who are not displaying or disclosing their company or legal identity: 66

Number of agents who fail to mention a Tenancy Deposit scheme they belong to: 44

Number of agents who do not publicise the EPC certificate of a property they are advertising to let on their website: 42

If these figures are indicative of the general levels of compliance across the country, then agents need to take urgent action to remedy the situation.

Although the likelihood of an immediate crackdown by Trading Standards looks highly unlikely, this issue won’t stay off the radar forever and the industry would be well advised to address it sooner rather than later.

James Munro, head of the Trading Standards estate agency team based in Powys, was at the conference.

When asked if the quoted statistics would cause Trading Standards to repeat the exercise in other localities, Munro was sceptical, given that each Trading Standards office is autonomous, short of resources and also short of revenue.

But as Stonely pointed out, if the quoted Trading Standards officers decided to take a stroll down their local high streets and simply deal with the letting agents who are not publicising their fees, the revenue from the fines in the subject area alone would be £25,000.

Given that Trading Standards is so notoriously short of funds, the industry is perhaps unwise to give them the excuse to do it on a far wider basis.

x

Email the story to a friend

26 Comments

  1. jad

    If anyone has ever tried (Normally in vain) to obtain any form of assistance from their local Trading Services Officers they would not take long to realise what a ‘Dead Duck’ they are and one normally gets immediately referred to the Citizens Advice Bureau, another ‘Dead Duck’ organisation, both of which are especially run to waste Tax Payers Money. You just try and obtain the professional assistance of anyone associated with enforcement these days…………..  Ho, Ho, Ho !!! you must be joking, especially local authorities.  Mind you there is always plenty of money in the pot for useless exercises and attending totally negative meetings.

    Report
    1. jeremy1960

      I have to agree, complete waste of time! In Dorset the TSO wrote to us advising that they would be visiting all agents to check compliance. They came to our town (9 agents) we passed with flying colours but they managed to “miss” 3 agents and of the others 3 were showing no fees at all when I checked 2 days later. i reported and after 3 emails was told that the TSO did not have time to check every agent even when I did half their job for them.

      Even yesterday within 3 miles of our office a quick check shows that more than 50% of agents still not complying!

      Report
      1. MF

        Same experience here. Our local Council wrote a very strongly worded letter that it said it was sending to all agents in the area, very shortly after 27 May.   Not heard a Dickie Bird since and still plenty of agents not disclosing their fees on their websites. Perhaps they have a lot of seminars to attend…

        Report
        1. MF

          (Perhaps TSOs have a lot of seminars to attend, not agents!)

          Report
  2. JWVW

    Whilst this shows a few agents to be a bit lazy, it is a good example of the absurd amount of extra red tape we have been burdened with. The Conservatives have continually said they would reduce red tape. Instead they have added layer upon layer.

    Report
    1. GlennAckroyd

      I don’t think it’s a ‘few agents who are a bit lazy’ – It’s an industry that treats compliance with contempt.

      There was a previous story about letting agents in Sheffield who did not publish landlord / tenant fees. Out of 84, only 4 complied. That’s 80 ‘a bit lazy’…

      They should all get an improvement 14 day notice and told to close if they don’t comply.

      Report
      1. GlennAckroyd

        Here’s the link to Sheffield article – http://www.propertyindustryeye.com/city-where-only-four-letting-agents-on-list-of-81-comply-with-law-on-fees/

        Report
  3. WPD

    The industry is a shambles and as someone above said “treats compliance with contempt”. No wonder agents working in the residential sales and letting sector are held in such low esteem. Every week in London loads of agents open up, close down, day-in, day-out with “phoenix” companies often opening up in the same location after the directors steal the client money and deposits. They don’t care, they rarely if ever get punished, they don’t comply with anything so they are not fussed about the Deregulation Act, or the immigration bill or redress schemes or anything else. If anyone thinks this is not affecting their legitimate business then think again.

    Report
    1. smile please

      WPD that is a serious accusation any examples?

      Should be a story EYE look into if true.

      Report
      1. WPD

        here you go: http://portfolio.cpl.co.uk/TS-Today/201506/news-2/

        My firm was the one that assisted Westminster Trading Standards to prosecute him and I was a witness.  He set himself up as an online agent and used RICS, NAEA, ARLA logos. This is a rare example of a prosecution. I don’t know if anyone he ripped off got their money back. For every one prosecuted there must be a 100 getting away with it.

        Report
        1. smile please

          Interesting story but did he start up as a phoenix company after and did he steal client monies?

          Story just highlights the use of logos he was not entitled to use (good to see prosecuted though!)

          Report
  4. Woodentop

    This is old news, years ago I posted that Trading Standards do not take enforcement action unless a member of the public complains. They have been turning a blind eye, more interested and time taken up with counterfeit, market traders and car boots. It is down to each individual TS officer what he wants to do.

     

    This could be stopped if The Property Ombudsman remit allowed agents to complain.

    Currently that is not possible, only the public. As for Powys council …. waste of time, they haven’t a clue and can’t keep up with the small workload they currently have.

    Report
    1. jad

      ‘Woodentop  – It is down to each individual TS officer what he wants to do’  call me cynical , but my lifetime experience professionally is that they never did much in years gone by, and cherry picked the easy targets if they even bothered – NOW ?? well they don’t even bother to go Cherry Picking.

      Report
  5. Headache

    Trading standards are not fit for purpose,if ARLA really looked after its members it would launch an investigation into them

    Report
    1. new life

      And you think ARLA are any better ???? wake up and smell the coffee.

      Report
  6. Woodentop

    Just as a side note remember organisations used to subscribe to self regulatory organisations, LAUTRO comes to mind for example. It worked and kept the FS industry in check for years, only when Blair came along and changed the system to outsiders, FSA and now FCA did it all go pear shape. We have NAEA and RICS with little power, no teeth but most importantly no proactive policing.

    Report
  7. Stevie

    So here I am being “drawn out of a hat” for an audit, via the tpo only the third time in 5 years and there is this void of agents not complying! what are these bodies doing about that?

    9 years in office and getting the usual slap on the back but really, stop reigning in the agents that are doing their best to comply with ever changing rules,regs, T’s & C’s etc and look at getting these renegades in order.

    All I see is price rises in membership because of their workload, kinda wish I was PAYE again and join the band of can’t do so tell others how its done brigade.

     

     

    Report
    1. smile please

      3rd time in 5 years audit by TPO? – i would change redress scheme!

      I think its good practice once in a while to be audited but that is too often when as you say others get away with it!

      Report
    2. Trevor Mealham

      Stevie, BPRs are there to protect fair trade agents too. I understand your gripe and its valid.

      If you are aware of rogue agents. Report them. Its better the powers that be are directed to investigate good agents

      Report
      1. Trevor Mealham

        Sorry. Should have read RATHER than investigate good agents.

        Report
      2. PeeBee

        “If you are aware of rogue agents. Report them.”

        WHY???

        Look at the article.  READ it.

        TS are aware, in one area alone, of UP TO 61.7% of the Agents covering that area not complying with requirements laid down… and the figure COULD BE as high as 70% because their ‘checks’ apparently consisted of Agents’ websites being “vetted” – and 8.4% of the Agents either had no website; an “unavailable” website – or what about they simply couldn’t find it, maybe?

        NOTHING in the article about what actions were taken in response to the findings.  NOT ONE WORD.

        Which speaks volumes in itself.

        Report
        1. Trevor Mealham

          Agree Pee Bee. Not good.

          It could be that TS are in the process of doing things, for which they wouldn’t be able to name or shame or make public some intel.

          Report
  8. jad

    I didn’t think this original posting would draw much comment, but for once it has and there appears to be a definite agreement as to who is failing the industry, try ‘TRADING STANDARDS’ who dot appear to work to any form of Professional standard themselves – Maybe Property Eye might solicit comment from those affected by the raft of recent legislation and the most definite lack of fair and proper enforcement.  Praise those who try and pillory those who are doing nothing but bringing the industry down.

    Report
  9. Trevor Mealham

    A good article. My guess right down to silly errors or ignorance is that 70/80% of agents over a 12 month period fall into breach. TS budget is too low. They need closer to £1m in the pot for which £200/300k would be best spent on educating good agents who innocently get things wrong, funds fo admin and web and 400/500k to go after real rogue property traders whk are often not classed as agents

    Report
    1. PeeBee

      Nice to see you back, Mr Mealham.

      We have unfinished business, back on the thread the other day:

      http://www.propertyindustryeye.com/onthemarket-agent-quits-saying-membership-has-cost-it-money-and-business/#comment-28978

      I have repeated my question at the bottom of the comments thread to make it easier to find.

      I look forward to (being the ever-eternal optimist) this time receiving a definitive response.

      Report
  10. Trevor Mealham

    Pee Bee. I have left a comment. Not sure its one that you want. T

    Report
X

You must be logged in to report this comment!

Leave a reply

Thank you for signing up to our newsletter, we have sent you an email asking you to confirm your subscription. Additionally if you would like to create a free EYE account which allows you to comment on news stories and manage your email subscriptions please enter a password below.