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5 Buying and Selling Property

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1. Introduction

2. Dealing with estate agents

3. Problems with estate agents

Remember that an estate agent’s contract is with the seller, not the buyer. But if you have a problem, either as buyer or seller, which you can’t resolve with the agent, you may be able to take your complaint to an ombudsman scheme. Under new rules, which came into force in October 2008, all estate agents must belong to an ombudsman scheme that is approved by the Office of Fair Trading.

Two of the schemes now running are the Ombudsman for Estate Agents (OEA) and the Surveyors Ombudsmans Scheme (SOS). Your estate agent will tell you which scheme it belongs to.

If the Ombudsman is able to look at your complaint, it can award compensation of up to £25,000 (though it is normally much less).

If you can’t take your complaint to the Ombudsman, or if you think the complaint is very serious (for example, the agent has broken the law), you could contact:

  • the National Association of Estate Agents (if the agent is a member);
  • The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (if the agent is a member); or
  • the trading standards department at your local council.

In extreme cases, where estate agents have behaved very badly, the Office of Fair Trading can stop them working as estate agents.

4. Offers, exchange of contracts and completion

5. What the price should include

6. Problems with solicitors and conveyancers

7. Problems with the survey

8. Buying a newly built home

9. Leasehold, freehold and commonhold properties

10. Mortgage and money problems

11. Neighbour disputes and anti-social behaviour

12. Further Help

13. About this leaflet

The leaflets in this series give you an outline of your legal rights. They are not a complete guide to the law and are not intended to be a guide to how the law will apply to you or to any specific situation. The leaflets are regularly updated but the law may have changed since this was printed, so information in it may be incorrect or out of date.

If you have a problem, you will need to get more information or personal advice to work out the best way to solve it. See ‘Further help’ for sources of information and advice.

This leaflet is published by the Gurkha Free Legal Advice (LSC). It was written in association with Shelter.


Leaflet Version: December 2008

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