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What estate agents have to tell you – changes to the law

The law now demands more clarity from estate agents when dealing with clients - find out what they have to disclose and demand to be kept in the know.

Sarah* had spent £800 and invested a lot of time and mental energy into buying her dream house when suddenly she had to call the whole thing off because she found out the house was subsiding.

She knew there were uncertainties involved in buying a house but hadn’t expected anyone to deliberately mislead her into buying something under false pretenses.

It turned out all three of the houses in the terrace had been underpinned and her estate agent had hidden this from her because he knew it would put her off.

Up until recently the law was not on Sarah’s side – the buyer had the responsibility of finding out if a property was faulty and if they didn’t ask, the estate agent wasn’t obliged to point out problems.

But, as of this month, the 1993 Property Misdescriptions Act (PMA) has been scrapped and estate agents now have to comply with much stricter measures under Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations (CPRs).

The law applies to estate agents, property developers and websites that introduce buyers to sellers. If any of these are deemed to be acting unfairly they can be issued limitless fines and individuals and imprisoned for up to two years.

Paula Higgins CEO of Homeowners Alliance welcomed the changes. “Although there are a lot of estate agents that act fairly we have heard too many stories in the past about ones who’ve exploited loopholes and taken advantage of their clients.

“It’s good to see the law adapting and updating itself and we hope this will result in a better deal for homebuyers and sellers,” she said.

What do these changes to the law mean for me?

CPRs mean that estate agents now have to disclose “fair” information to homebuyers and sellers. That includes making “material information” about a property clear, unambiguous and not deliberately misleading or withholding information from buyers.

It also stipulates that estate agents must be honest about their credentials, and not falsely claim that they are part of a professional body or redress scheme.

They must provide “accurate descriptions of properties they are marketing”, that means pictures of the property should be realistic – so no spending hours looking for the one angle that doesn’t show the motorway at the end of the garden.

A number of things can now be classed as withholding information from buyers. For example, not revealing planning permission or development in the area or proximity to a power station or sewage works is illegal and could result in prosecution.

The law also calls for “open, honest, clear and timely sharing of relevant information”. So no hiding information from buyers until it’s too late.

And if a number of sales have fallen through agents now have to find out why and alert the buyer.

This means situations like Sarah’s (mentioned above) will be less common because buyers are more likely to know about problems before starting the process.

Local schools, night clubs or halfway houses also have to be mentioned, as do neighbours with ASBOs and whether there have been burglaries in the area. Buyers also need to know whether there has been a murder or suicide in the property.

But the OFT warns that estate agents act for the seller, not the buyer and recommends that homebuyers contract their own solicitor or licensed surveyor to act for them. The OFT has also issued information packs on the process for both homebuyers and sellers.

However, Mark Hayward, managing director of the National Association of Estate Agents, said he had reservations about the guides. “We welcome the guidance document on compliance with Consumer Protection Regulation, but we believe that the unique and important nature of property purchase means consumers deserve further, stronger protection.

Hayward suggested when the guidance was first published that it should be used in conjunction with the now defunct 1993 Property Misdescriptions Act (PMA). “We have long advised that both pieces of legislation could exist concurrently to the benefit of the consumer,” he said.

The OFT say consumers should take control of the situation by doing their own research into the buying process, being clear with estate agents about their requirements and keeping written records of conversations about buying the property.

Buyers can now expect estate agents to investigate potential problems they think might become an issue, such as suspicions of damp or probable leaks. Although it may be hard to prove that your estate agent had a suspicion unless they specifically tell you so.

They also have to mention Green Deal loans (which allow owners to make improvements to the property and then pay them back with the savings on their electricity bill), because these debts are passed on to new owners.

Other practices that are considered unfair include putting buyers under undue pressure to skip the survey, raise their offer or exchange contracts. Estate agents should also offer their own complaints procedure.

If you think your estate agents are acting unfairly but you are not sure what to do,  then take a look at our guide on How to resolve disputes with estate agents. The guide for buyers is coming soon.

*Names have been changed.

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  1. We complained about the agents acting for sellers of a cottage we wanted to buy. We won complaint and the ombudsmen made Agents pay our abortive legal costs on purchase and sale saying they had misled us. We had not exchanged contracts as we found out about the cottage luckily in time

    Comment by Christine Gossling — September 23, 2020 @ 11:00 am

  2. In early 2019 we had commenced a planning application to develop a small piece of land adjoining our property .The agent who handled the sale of a house next-door did not disclose to the purchasers that we had an ongoing application.
    We have just learned that they were never informed by either the seller or the agent that we had an application with the local council. Which I understood should have been an obligation in law. Your comments please

    Comment by Gillian Espley — September 17, 2020 @ 4:35 pm

  3. I place an offer on a house and to find that house was shared ownership, and the estate agents fail to put this in the description, and when pull up they said they didn’t know about the shared ownership ? Do estate agents not have to checks on this sort of thing because its do nothing but cause no end of stress.
    Is not a law that estate agents has to disclose all information inregards to houses they sell?

    Comment by Laura Mabey — September 10, 2020 @ 5:58 pm

  4. I have seen a house on Rightmove but the estate Agent will not let me view it until i have allowed them to valuate my house. I do not know that i want to sell until i see the other property so why all the pressure?

    Comment by Edward Briggs — July 29, 2020 @ 11:38 am

  5. Should an estate agent that is showing you around a property , be aware that there is a conveyance order on the property and should they inform the potential buyers ?

    Comment by Zandra — July 2, 2020 @ 10:17 pm

  6. My home is under offer, i received paperwork from my solicitor, it asks who the buyer is and their solicitor. I rang estate agent and i asked her what the buyers name is, she said you don’t need to know that information susan. i felt quite upset over it. why it this being kept from me ?

    Comment by sue — June 24, 2020 @ 7:20 pm

  7. We were supposed to complete and exchange last week.This could not happen as the seller has some sort of claim on the house by Lloyd’s Bank ie, money owed on it.
    The seller says this has been settled and Lloyd’s have not changed the land registry details.
    The seller says that Lloyd’s have not replied to her.She will not sign a agreement from our solicitors to say she will not receive the funds until we have this confirmed.
    We have got to the stage where we were going to exchange and complete on the same day.The money was with our solicitors to do so.
    Now we had agreed the 7th April.We had sold our house about 2months ago and had our furniture in storage and still do ,which is costing £240 a month.
    We have said we that we will have to pull out of the sale unless this is not resolved by the 20thApril April.
    Would we be able to claim with either the seller or the estate agents regarding all these cost.
    If the house goes back on the market would the estate agents still be able to market it considering they know about land register problem.?

    Comment by Michael O’Brien — April 16, 2020 @ 5:48 pm

  8. (didn’t mean to submit below message)! I am in the process of purchasing a property, been taking forever and have spent a lot of money. Estate agent messaged me a while back saying he had received all paperwork from seller and sellers solicitor has now done the contract.(confirmed by my Solicitor) 5 months later I have now been told by the Estate Agent that the property is probate and that I should give up and look for something else. I cant afford to do this again. Should I have known this when I was first purchasing it. Do I have to count my losses or can I make a claim against them? ( I can’t actually afford to start again)

    Comment by Annette — March 20, 2020 @ 10:38 am

  9. I am in the process of purchasing a property. Been taking forever and have spent a lot of money. Estate agent messaged me a while back saying he had received all paperwork from seller and seller solicitor has now done tgd contract. 65 months later I havd nos been told by the Estate Agent that the oropery is probate and ti give up and look for something else. I cant afford to do this again. Doshoujx I gave known this when I was first purchasing it?

    Comment by Annette — March 20, 2020 @ 9:13 am

  10. Hi,
    I made an offer and am going through subsequent process on a property which is my / our, dream home. Property was advertised stating a couple of the following lines….

    ” The cellars have been converted to provide an additional large 8m long reception room currently being utilised as a games room……
    An immaculate three bedroom semi-detached home with converted cellars”

    I have now had a survey and the surveyor noted that the conversion needs building regs to be used as a habitable room. The owners do not have regs but have done a great job in making the place dry and a usable space (only for storage or occasional use).
    I have sight of the work that has been undertaken but feel a little frustrated that only now am I aware the cellar has not had building regs to be used as an additional reception room as outlined above.
    They seller is not willing to reduce any more to take into account the additional work needed to make the cellar a habitable space so I’m stuck. I don’t really want to walk away from the house but feel a little led on by the advert and all discussions have taken me down to the final stages and without my investigations, we would have possibly had a different view on offer etc throughout the process.
    The home was on for £X88k and the offer has been accepted at £X80k and now they aren’t willing to assist in the cost it would take to make it compliant……..really want the house though but very frustrated with EA / seller.

    Any advice greatly received

    Comment by Kevin — February 4, 2020 @ 1:58 pm

  11. I made an offer in a property 3months agi and since then have spent thousands of pounds with solicitor and research due to a freehold agreement with missing pages in land registry. The mortgage provider has asked for a deed of variation to be added for the mortgage to be approved. The selller won’t consider this. Our solicitor view is that the property is not mortgageable as is. We are considering now a bridging loan. However estate agent now suggests that they will put it back on the market. If it all falls through can we recoup of costs from the estate agent? We feel this information was not disclosed to us. What are your thoughts?

    Comment by Rose — January 27, 2020 @ 4:00 pm

  12. Hi Alex, it’s our understanding that your friend would only be responsible for any electricity costs from the date his tenancy agreement commenced. Your friend should take meter readings and inform the utility suppliers of the change of occupier.

    Comment by HomeOwners Alliance — January 21, 2020 @ 3:36 pm

  13. My friend put a deposit down on a rental property then his job start date was delayed by a month and a half. The estate agent told him that they couldn’t allow him access to the property until they saw his start date in a contract but that he would have to keep paying for the flat anyway.
    He borrowed money from a best friend to do so and he was finally given access this Friday 17 Jan after he was able to show them his contract starting today.
    He has walked into bailiff leaders from energy providers dating to before he was given access. Is he liable for the energy while he was not given access to the property?
    Many thanks

    Comment by Alex Diggins — January 20, 2020 @ 7:32 pm

  14. How frustrating for you! If you feel that the agent has withheld information then you should ask them for their complaints procedure. I’m afraid you have to go through their internal complaints procedure before you can escalate a complaint to an estate agent redress scheme.

    Comment by HomeOwners Alliance — January 21, 2020 @ 3:34 pm

  15. Hi. We are in the process of buying a house and after 3 months of paying out on surveys/ solicitors we have found out that the house is subject to probate which hasn’t even been applied for yet! At no point the agents or vendors have said anything about this and only cropped up because we thought we were near completion and asked what was holding things up. We feel we have been missold?

    Comment by Me taylor — January 20, 2020 @ 5:13 pm

  16. Hello Ron, if you’d like some legal advice about this, please consider becoming a member and we can set up a call for you with a legal adviser.

    Comment by HomeOwners Alliance — January 6, 2020 @ 2:27 pm

  17. I was sold my property 11 years ago as a four bedroom bungalow.Now I have come to sell it and the buyers surveyor has said the fourth bedroom has never meet with building regs and therefore the house could only be sold as a three bedroom property.My surveyor did not pick this up at the time of my purchase and the estate agents had sold my house twice before as a four bed.Do I have any recourse?

    Comment by Ron Baker — January 3, 2020 @ 5:15 pm

  18. I was currently going through the sale of a property so then find out 2 months down the line that it is a leasehold property when when it was advertised being sold as a freehold property as you know no your rights are nowhere near as good as when you have a freehold and I would never have entered into negotiations knowing it was leasehold I have now lost Close to £1,000 in fees due to somebody else’s error

    Comment by Lewis Patrick Cheung — December 16, 2019 @ 3:39 pm

  19. Dear Nicola – Sorry to read of your experience. Unfortunately this is the case with properties sometimes as the seller can choose who they wish to sell to. I do sympathise that they kept you hanging around with no explanation. You could consider putting in a complaint to them.

    Comment by HomeOwners Alliance — December 6, 2019 @ 11:24 am

  20. Hi
    Just recieved news today that the new build I have been interested in and been constantly asking about (8 weeks has been sold to another buyer who needs less of a mortgage than me. I feel let down and discriminated againist. I wasnt told there was a potential buyer in that property and got fobbed off with excuses

    Comment by Nicola Ann Whittle — December 5, 2019 @ 6:23 pm

  21. Hi MDH – You are quite correct that if they are members of The Property Ombudsman then they should be disclosing material information to buyers if they are aware of it.

    Comment by HomeOwners Alliance — November 29, 2019 @ 2:59 pm

  22. A sale of a property has just fallen through after spending 4k on valuations and applications fees after we requested an asbestos survey.

    The vendor has been advised by the agent that if they have the survey conducted and asbestos is found they must disclose this to future buyers.

    I have told the estate agent that they must also share any material information with any potential buyers prior to organising viewings as this is the law.

    This means that any potential buyers must be told that the reason for the sale falling through was the refusal of an asbestos survey.

    The estate agent is refusing to do this, do I have a case against the agent?

    Any ideas on what I should do next?

    Comment by MDH — November 27, 2019 @ 4:06 pm

  23. Dear Graham – A reservation may have been something that may have helped, but sometimes these are difficult to prepare and do put some buyers off. You may be liable for costs if you did break the agreement at this point, but it is worth asking the question as to what this would mean in terms of costs.

    Comment by HomeOwners Alliance — October 18, 2019 @ 3:08 pm

  24. I have just been gazundered by £15,000 on a sale price of £375,000 which was on the draft contract for some time, but the day before exchange the buyers demanded £20,000 off the price, which I only managed to reduce to £15,000. The sale took 6 months due to a lot of problems that needed to be resolved, asbestos, retrospective permission for double glazing from freeholders, variation to the lease and roof repairs which I paid for, total £5,000.
    When this happened my solicitor said he wasn’t qualified to advise on marketing issues, but thought that “I ought to give them something”. So I offered £370,000 and they replied with £360,000 final.
    My estate agent said they still thought £375,000 was correct but it was up to me, and if they walked away it could take many more months to sell.
    When I accepted, the buyers then demanded time to re-negotiate their mortgage at the lower price – in other words they did have the finance all along.
    The contracts were then exchanged, but I then discovered that an identical flat to mine 6 doors away, had already gone on sale for £400,000 ‘needing refurbishment’. Looking at the pictures online there isn’t much difference, but I’m willing to accept that might be more work needed on mine and in any case they won’t get the asking price.
    My solicitor says the damages resulting from me breaking the contract would be prohibitive, but do I have any case against the estate agents? Or against the solicitor, who knew I was worried about gazundering, but never suggested a Reservation Agreement to stop it happening?

    Comment by Graham Douglas — October 17, 2019 @ 1:55 pm

  25. in Cambridge, due to brexit uncertainity prices have dropped, providing me an opportuntiy to get onto the housng ladder, however now the number of house up for sake has also fallen and hence some houses, with a lot of interest, go to sealed bids and the prices are raised.
    This property was on the market for a week before it went to sealed bids as it had a lot of interetst. I bid considerably over the asking amount in order to secre a home and was the winning bid.s 2 days ago. they also informed me that it was of a steel construction- have a number of issues including on resale when i was the winning bid. steel construction – iI feel they have deliberately witheld the information. also as they have only notified me that i was sucessful by telephone and not by email – a friend is saying is that they are probably doing that deliberately to keep all the high bids in the loop as they will expect some drop out. I understand I can pull out but I feel they should have disclosed this information either in the ad or during the viewing and now it seems they are still behaving odd- they wnat me to go into the office on Friday – butnthis seems to be only so they try a offer me one of their own mortages as to oppsed to the one I already have. I have a large cash deposit so I will be able to get the mortgage but it all sems very odd- any advice

    Comment by Nicola — September 5, 2019 @ 7:21 am

  26. Hi TS, they certainly can’t give you false or misleading information, or hide or fail to provide material information to you. What is considered material information isn’t set out in detail though and ultimately would be for a court to decide. If you think that the agent withheld information about asbestos from you, you can complain to your local Trading Standards Service.
    We recommend that buyers get a professional survey done before buying a property.

    Comment by Sara Hind — July 16, 2019 @ 3:30 pm

  27. Recently viewed a house in Blackburn on Rudyard Drive with Mortimer’s estate agents. The house is covered in 1970s Artex and I’m wondering if Mortimers should have alerted me to the possible presence of asbestos in it. Only when I mentioned it to them did they acknowledge it and that was after they were playing my offer against someone else’s.

    Comment by TS — July 15, 2019 @ 9:35 pm

  28. Hi Simon, this isn’t the place to give you legal advice, but you certainly have cause to complain to the estate agent. Ask for their internal complaints procedure in the first instance. If you’d like some legal advice (though hopefully you won’t need it!) do consider joining us as a member.

    Comment by Sara Hind — July 10, 2019 @ 12:34 pm

  29. Hi, I’m in the process of buying a flat which in the estate agents brochure referred to the property being chain free twice. I have instructed solicitors who have initiated searches (at my cost), instructed a full home buyers and agreed my mortgage lenders valuation fees and have been astounded to find out that the vendor is actually in a long chain – I feel I have been misrepresented by the agents brochure, I was told the vendor was moving in with their partner hence the sale.

    Do you think if for any reason the sale falls through due to the chain above me, that I could have any recourse to recover the fees I am going to incur for the agents misrepresentation?


    Comment by Simon — July 9, 2019 @ 4:36 pm

  30. Hello John, this does sound odd. Check the Estate Agent’s privacy policy. They shouldn’t be passing on personal data unless your daughter has agreed to it being passed on. I’d be inclined to submit a formal complaint to the branch manager in the first instance. Your daughter should be under no obligation to use any of the service providers the estate agent is recommending. Your daughter has the right to shop around to find her own solicitor. Best wishes, the HOA Team.

    Comment by Sara Hind — June 18, 2019 @ 2:35 pm

  31. Hi. My daughter is buying a house. She put in an offer and it’s been accepted.
    This was on Thursday. Then she told estate agent she is getting a survey done but will be in 2 weeks time. They said can she get it done quicker as want sale done asap as no onward chain. She was told she will also need a solicitor to act on her behalf. She has been looking for one and then Saturday morning a letter turned up at our address from a solicitor that the estate agent has contacted with price she got to pay them . Paper work and it says if she don’t want to use them. She needs to put it in writing. Can the estate agent actually do this without permission?? She has found a solicitor which is nearly £175 cheaper but that’s not the issue. Issue is I thought the estate agent are not in there right to give information out.

    Comment by John — June 17, 2019 @ 9:50 am

  32. Hi Lisa, how frustrating! We and the Property Ombudsman think that this kind of information should be provided to you at an early stage, by the estate agent, as it could affect you decision on whether or not to proceed. Do get in touch if you’d like us to help further at hello@hoa.org.uk
    Best wishes The HOA Team.

    Comment by Sara Hind — May 29, 2019 @ 11:08 am

  33. hi i put on offer on a shared ownership flat , i m buying 50 per cent and the other 50 per cent will be owned by a registered social landlord .
    the purchase has been slow as my solictors found that there was a doubling ground rate clause.
    there has been agreement to do a deed of variation to change ground rate to only increase with apr .
    however progress is painful slow and i seem to be getting fobbed off every time i chase and i m beyond stressed as currently stuck in high rent with no where else to go .
    should the double ground rate declared to me before i started to purchase ?

    Comment by lisa — May 24, 2019 @ 4:01 pm

  34. My daughter was all set to buy her first house. She viewed it at night and the day after, the vendor put it up for auction. The very next day, she phoned the estate agent to place an offer and was told it had gone to auction but she could still pass on the offer. Five minutes later the offer was accepted and my daughter paid £3000 up front (being told it would be taken from her mortgage deposit). All was well until the lenders survey came back with “steel framed”. Since then no lender is interested in giving her a mortgage, all due to the steel frame.
    Surely the Estate Agents would have been aware of this? Nothing was mentioned in the literature pack they supplied.
    She is now over £4000 out of pocket with search fees etc and has no “comeback”! This is disgusting practice!

    Comment by Alan Scott — April 27, 2019 @ 11:54 am

  35. Hello Susan, The sales brochure will have been agreed with the vendor. Typically sales brochures don’t go into great details about lease conditions. We advise all buyers to ask questions and to ask for a copy of the lease before they make an offer. A copy of the lease will be provided as part of the conveyancing process, so although later in the buying process, the buyer will become aware of any restrictions in the lease about keeping pets, and also any service charges.

    Comment by Sara Hind — April 2, 2019 @ 11:50 am

  36. I own 50% of a management company. There are 4 flats and 2 other directors. Flat one is selling their flat and the estate agent has not advised the prospective buyer on the fees that will be needed to be paid to the management company or shown them the latest accounts or told them it will breach the lease to have an animal. They feel it’s not their obligation. Flat 1 is an affordable flat and the person may struggle to meet the costs and may even have a dog but they still feel it’s not their problem. The sale is agreed. Surely isn’t it unfair that the buyer may not find out these issues until the sale is actually agreed! If the new owner can’t meet their management bills or bring their dog with them, I then have to confront them which I feel should have been done in the first instance. Could you advise me what to do??

    Comment by Susan Anderson — April 1, 2019 @ 9:20 pm

  37. If you the property is in Cornwall or West Devon; if any part of the property, including extensions was built between 1900 and 1960; if any part of the property contains concrete block or mass concrete then it’s likely that your mortgage lender will insist on a mundic test. Whether it’s you or the vendor that has to pay for this very much depends on your negotiating position. Regardless of who pays for the report, your mortgage lender will want your name and sometimes theirs on the report. It’s difficult to say whether the agent should have disclosed anything about this – the agent will have agreed the sales details with the vendor and it’s possible that the vendor doesn’t know whether the property is mundic-free, though there’s a chance that they had to have the property tested when they bought it.

    Comment by Sara Hind — March 11, 2019 @ 4:35 pm

  38. The house we are trying to purchase has been sold to us as mundic free. We are now having to have a mundic test on surveyors report this is infact a mundic area. Do we have to pay or the vendor and how can an estate agent sell to us and not have disclosed this ? Advice please. Our mortgage lender is having none of it and without a full clear mundic check we are stuck.

    Comment by Leanne Ross — March 6, 2019 @ 7:46 pm

  39. Hello Anthony, thanks for getting in touch. It sounds like there might have been miscommunication on the part of the estate agent and conveyancer at least so I suggest looking at their complaints procedures to start with. You could explore your options with a negligence case as well and get legal advice on where you stand with this.

    Comment by Chandni Sahni — February 28, 2019 @ 11:06 am

  40. Hello, I recently bought a house with Fox & Sons in Polegate – a month after moving in my neighbour informed me that I also owned a plot of land disconnected from the house and garden that came with my deed. The estate agent didn’t show me this as part of the sale, neither did my conveyancer or surveyors say anything about it despite it being outlined on the title map. The land includes a large retaining brick wall which is collapsing and will cost me 10’s of thousands to repair. The plot is outlined on my title plan – as a first-time buyer, I missed it and trusted the reports and information I was given – IE I bought what I was shown and what was surveyed. The seller did not disclose that this wall etc was part of the property – in fact, I doubt they even knew! Any advice on where I stand regarding making a complaint is appreciated. Many thanks, Anthony

    Comment by Anthony Giles — February 19, 2019 @ 8:47 am

  41. Hi Derek, that does sound like a breach of the Property Ombudsman Scheme. Most estate agents should be members of the Property Ombudsman scheme and its Code of Conduct does state that buyers fees should be appropriately communicated. If you think your agent has broken advertising rules (i.e. false advertising), you can lodge a complaint to The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)– they are the UK’s independent regulator of advertising across all media.

    Comment by Chandni Sahni — February 14, 2019 @ 1:44 pm

  42. Is this totally legal?

    New estate agent in Worcester advertising totally free sales. Which is true, but what they do not advertise is that only after viewing and then being sent details is the prospective buyer told they will not pass on the offer to the vendor unless a signed agreement to pay a minimum of 1% of the completion price is agreed.

    Comment by Derek — February 13, 2019 @ 9:39 pm

  43. Hello Laura, most estate agent contracts include a clause that says that the vendor must ensure that all of the material the estate agent uses to describe the property is correct. It sounds as though you’re doing the right thing – taking advice from your solicitor – the usual conveyancing process requires the seller to fill in what is called the Property Information Form and this is the kind of thing that should be disclosed on that form.

    Comment by Sara Hind — February 5, 2019 @ 4:18 pm

  44. The estate agent who sold my property to me failed to disclose several buidling works that were carried out by the vendor without listed building consent, building reg consent, etc. The vendor did not disclose these facts to me either (answered ‘no’ to question 4.1 on TA6 form). Having originally sold the property to my vendor, the estate agent was fully cognisant of the works that the vendor had carried out at the property before selling it to me. Shouldn’t the estate agent have provided clearer information to me? I now find myself with a property that lacks several permissions, consents and compliances and requires substantial remedial work at my financial loss. I wouldn’t have bought the property if the vendor and estate agent had disclosed the lack of planning permission etc. to me. I will be pursuing the vendor for misrepresentation via my solicitor, but should the estate agent also be held to account? The estate agent knew the property’s history inside out and, given that the property changed so much during ownership by my vendor (2014-2018), surely the estate agent should have enquired about permission/consent in order to be able to provide full information to a prospective buyer. At the very least, shouldn’t they have alerted me to the potental lack of permissions? Any advice greatly appreciated.

    Comment by Laura — February 5, 2019 @ 2:31 pm

  45. Hello Shamsur, Estate Agents must not make a false or misleading statement about a property, or withhold information which would be of material interest to a potential customer. This is an offence under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. I’m not a lawyer so can’t give advice about how you go about getting your money back, but you could start by submitting a formal complaint to the estate agent – you will need to ask them for their complaints procedure. If you took out a membership with us, we could look into this for you and set up a call with a legal adviser.

    Comment by Sara Hind — November 19, 2018 @ 3:50 pm

  46. Hi, after going through the purchase procedure, doing a survey, getting the mortgage accepted and on the back of a survey it was established the property was on the boundaries of a mining shaft and the lender required us to pay for a coal mining report which we paid for and the lender decided to withdraw their mortgage offer due to the risks of the mining shaft.

    During the purchase process after the offer was accepted by the seller the estate agent refused to remove the property off the market as they mentioned the sale has fell through a few times in the past and they would only remove the property off the market once they have confirmation of the lender willing to give the mortgage.

    Thinking back about this I now believe they were always aware of the mining shaft issues and did not disclose this to us as if I did know I wouldn’t have proceeded and due to this I have spent £250 for solicitor deposit, £198 for survey, £143.70 on coal mining report and also will have to pay the solicitor a final bill for their legal fees which is a lot of money I have lost.

    Please can you advise me the best way to progress with this to get my money back or even get this investigates as I strongly believe the way the agent have been with me they clearly knew about the mining shaft.

    Comment by Shamsur Ali — November 5, 2018 @ 4:43 pm

  47. Hi Laura, I’d speak to your water company again about getting a stopcock fitted in your property. When it comes to selling her property, your neighbour will have been asked to fill out a Property Information Form by her conveyancer and on this form she will need to disclose certain issues to her buyer. You could tell the estate agent, but I doubt that they would do anything about it as it’s not something that falls within their remit.

    Comment by Sara Hind — November 19, 2018 @ 4:26 pm

  48. Hello. I own my maisonette and the downstairs neighbor has just sold hers however over the summer we have had issues with her which have not been resolved. The main one being she has a stop cock in her flat which turns off our water which recently she has done! We’ve asked her to remove the stop cock as upon speaking to the water agency she should not have this in her flat nor should she be turning off our water! My question is this, should I report this to her estate agent? She’s not yet moved the sale is currently going through, but I see iit unfair that our new neighbor should have to deal with a problem she knows about but has done nothing about. I don’t want to make anyone’s lives difficult I just want to do the right thing for all parties. What are your thoughts?

    Comment by Laura Hillary — October 31, 2018 @ 6:39 pm

  49. Hi Liam. Thanks for getting in touch. The estate agent is obliged to tell prospective buyers anything material that may affect their buying decision and they should do this before they take the time and effort to come and view. If you feel you have justification to make a complaint about your estate agent please have a look at our article about resolving issues with estate agents https://hoa.org.uk/advice/guides-for-homeowners/i-am-selling/how-to-resolve-disputes-with-estate-agents-a-guide-for-sellers/

    Comment by Chandni Sahni — October 23, 2018 @ 2:37 pm

  50. Hi we have gone through the full buying process through an estate agent. On completion of searches it was brought to our attention that there is a right of way through the garage. should the estate agent have informed us prior to us making an offer. We have expenditure costs for the solicitors and searches.



    Comment by Liam cahill — October 22, 2018 @ 8:49 pm

  51. Hello Maria, this article relates to what estate agents must disclose when selling properties. If you need to know more about what letting agents and landlords need to disclose to tenants can I suggest that you speak with the Citizen’s Advice Bureau.

    Comment by Chandni Sahni — October 23, 2018 @ 2:53 pm

  52. I am currently renting a property and it’s coming up to the time when I have to say whether I’m going to renew the contract or not for which they want to charge me £360 which seems a bit excessive for not a lot of work. However the main thing I wanted to ask was about disclosure. I have discovered that the landlord actually owns the estate agent so should I have been told from the off that this was the case as how do I know that he’s paying fees when I have to pay through the nose?

    Comment by Maria Wilson — October 21, 2018 @ 9:21 am

  53. Sorry Colin to hear about your experience. That must be very difficult for you both. I would like to recommend our guide on how to deal with noisy neighbours. You may find some of the suggestions useful. https://hoa.org.uk/advice/guides-for-homeowners/i-am-managing-2/how-should-i-deal-with-noisy-neighbours/. If you would like more tailored support please do consider taking out a membership.

    Comment by Marianne Cole — October 19, 2018 @ 3:25 pm

  54. Hi Jacqueline, thanks for getting in touch though we’re really sorry to hear of the difficulties you’re having with the estate agent. Yes, they should be passing on details of the offers to you. Take a look at our guide on how to complain about your estate agent. https://hoa.org.uk/advice/guides-for-homeowners/i-am-selling/how-to-resolve-disputes-with-estate-agents-a-guide-for-sellers/ If you’d like more tailored advice please do consider becoming a member.

    Comment by Sara Hind — October 17, 2018 @ 12:39 pm

  55. Hi, I have been with an online estate agency for a year and had only 20 viewings. I had one offer three days on my property before the year was up, after which time I could claim a refund of the fee, a total of £1199. I declined the offer and unbeknownst to me the potential buyers offered another £10,000 the day after. The estate agent never informed me of their offer, in fact never contacted me at all and consequently continued their search!!! I heard nothing from the estate agent after trying to contact her so I put in a complaint, demanded a refund and withdrew my property from the agency. It was only then, a week later I was informed of the increase! In the end I was offered £800 as a refund and today received half of that?!!! But to not be told of an offer must be not adhering to regulations, please advise. Thanks

    Comment by Jacqueline Hickey — October 4, 2018 @ 10:47 am

  56. Hi Gary. That’s a terrible waste of time and money. Yes it should really have been disclosed. Section 7i of The Property Ombudsman Code of Practise for residential estate agents says: “You must by law comply with the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (or the Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008 where applicable). The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 require you to disclose any information of which you are aware or should be aware of in relation to the property in a clear, intelligible and timely fashion and to take all reasonable steps that all statements that you make about a property, whether oral, pictorial or written, are accurate and are not misleading. All material information (*) must be disclosed and there must be no material omissions which may impact on the average consumer’s (*) transactional decision (*) and where information is given to buyers or their representatives, it must be accurate and not misleading.” But I suppose they would argue they didn’t know. Do consider joining us if you would like further dedicated advice and help with this matter. https://hoa.org.uk/homeowners-alliance-membership/

    Comment by AKerr — July 18, 2018 @ 1:31 pm

  57. Hi, after going through the purchase procedure, doing a survey, getting the mortgage in place, etc, we have been made aware that there is a restrictive covenant in place on the property. This covenant severely affects our plans we had on the property and had we been made aware earlier, most likely would not have put an offer into the property. Should this restriction have been disclosed to us by the agent?

    Comment by Gary Wilkinson — July 17, 2018 @ 11:13 am

  58. My daughter bought a flat but when viewing she noticed that the shower was leaking and the walls were all wet so reported it to estate agent. Was then told it had been fixed , now after moving in 4 weeks has found out it was not repaired

    Comment by Annette Andrews — July 10, 2018 @ 12:53 pm

  59. Hi Mark. You could contact the Leasehold Advisory Service https://www.lease-advice.org/ Alternatively if you were to join us as a member we’d be happy to look into this for you.

    Comment by Sara Hind — July 4, 2018 @ 3:40 pm

  60. I recently brought a property under a section 20, but was led to believe, not only that the amount would only be 10k, by the agent, but that there were no disputes regarding the costs of the section 20, between freeholders and residents. Also undeclared by the sellers. Is there anything i can do to fight this? I must admit to being very scared. The costs i face are almost the value of the flat.

    Comment by Mark Nimchan — July 1, 2018 @ 12:41 pm

  61. Hi Ruth,
    Thank you for your reply. The contract says I would be eligible for a fee should an introduction be made during the contract period. But nowhere does it imply that this info would be held from me (indeed, what would be the point of hiring an estate agent if they did?).
    The TPO process has regulations to avoid this happening – they should have told me about future obligations. The law says that EAs must abide by the rules of their own own regulatory body, but the TPO herself only gave them the smallest slap on the wrist. I used to think the word “Ombudsman” had some integrity so it is disappointing to learn the rules are meaningless and EA’s can still make a very tidy profit even when they are proven to deliberately break them. It is in their interest to lie, and profit, and receive no penalty.

    Comment by Ruth — June 8, 2018 @ 8:51 am

  62. Hi Ruth, Have you taken a look at the contract you have signed with the estate agent? My guess is that there was something in the small print which says that you would be liable for commission. We agree that this is not a consumer friendly practice at all and will continue to lobby for change. You can see all our campaigns here – https://hoa.org.uk/campaigns/.

    Comment by Paula — June 7, 2018 @ 5:08 pm

  63. Hello, I am in dispute with my estate agents. They are trying to claim their full fee on someone they never told me about. The buyer (Mr. X) made an enquiry with them but later changed his mind. Months later he bought from me direct when I was outside of contract. I knew nothing of their earlier connection until their demand for a fee.
    Is it illegal for an estate agent to claim a fee on a buyer who they never told you about?
    According to the TPO guidelines, EAs are supposed to inform seller of any potential future obligation (they did not); but when I raised the complaint with TPO their response was to just knock a tiny fraction off the fee. I’m shocked that the TPO think this is fair outcome – I wouldn’t have sold to this buyer had I known a fee would be due (already dropped price low as I could afford).
    Also, I recently met somebody else who had an identical story. If this withholding of info is common practise I am concerned that I have no legal standing to complain.
    Either way I will never use a highstreet EA again…. Feel so betrayed by both the EA and by the TPO…

    Comment by Ruth — June 7, 2018 @ 4:18 pm

  64. Hi Sam, No it’s not illegal. In relation to your experience, it’s only illegal not to pass an offer onto the vendor and to fabricate an offer. Have the conversations you have had with the estate agent been conducted over the phone? If so I would ask the estate agent to put these counter offers in writing and ask they give you evidence that the counter offer is for real? See https://hoa.org.uk/services/ask-an-expert-2/ask-an-expert-i-am-buying-questions/how-do-i-know-third-party-offer-is-real-and-not-the-agent-trying-it-on/
    In addition to that, here’s what the TPO Code of Conduct says for estate agents and passing on offers:
    9e)You must keep all buyers who have recently made offers
    through you, and which have not already been rejected,
    informed of the existence of other offers you have submitted
    to the seller.
    9f) You must be fair and not misleading when disclosing the
    amount of any offers made to other buyers. Before disclosing
    the amount of an offer, you must advise the seller of such
    intention and get the seller’s agreement; and you must warn
    all buyers who make offers that it is your practice to do so. If
    you do disclose any offer to one buyer, then all offers must be
    immediately disclosed to all buyers with a current interest in
    negotiations for the property.
    9g) After an offer has been accepted subject to contract, you must
    promptly tell that buyer if the seller accepts another offer.
    9h) By law you must not misrepresent or invent the existence, or
    any details, of any other offer made or the status of any other
    person who has made an offer. If you know that the seller has
    instructed a legal representative to send a contract to an
    alternative buyer, you must then tell your buyer in writing.
    I hope this helps.

    Comment by AKerr — June 5, 2018 @ 1:55 pm

  65. Hi
    I’ve recently put an offer on a house it was rejected. I asked the agent to keep my offer on the table with the vendors as I am a cash buyer with no chain. 3 days later the EA tells me they’ve received another offer which has also been rejected. I feel this puts my offer in not too bad a position as it’s obvious both offers are considerably lower than the vendors had hoped for. A week later the EA calls again to say they’ve received a higher offer from another buyer and ask if I can raise my offer. I raise by £15k, they submit the offer. The next day I get a call to say they’ve received another for £470k – my question is – are they legally allowed to disclose the other offer?? I thought this was illegal! I of course felt under pressure so raised my offer again – as it stands the I’ve been informed the vendors are still ‘considering my offer!’
    Many thanks

    Comment by Sam — June 4, 2018 @ 3:42 pm

  66. Thanks Michelle. It’s not illegal for them to advertise the home again and there isn’t an obligation on the seller or estate agent to set out everything about the property in that advert. But the estate agent is obliged to tell prospective buyers anything material that may affect their buying decision and they should do this before they take the time and effort to come and view. So now the estate agents are aware of the mineshaft they must inform people viewing the property in future. You might just send them an email reminding them of this duty of care and to avoid people spending money unnecessarily in future. If you suspect, or better have evidence, that the agents knew about the mineshaft in advance of your viewing, you could make a formal complaint or let us know and we’ll refer it onto the regulator. Likewise if you feel the estate agent fobs you off, get in touch with us again. In the meantime, we are trying to get homebuyers better information, earlier in the process and have been campaigning for just this. See https://hoa.org.uk/campaigns/end-home-selling-chaos/

    Comment by AKerr — March 27, 2018 @ 7:26 pm

  67. Hi my son has recently pulled out of a house because he had a mine search done off his own back and was told there is a mine shaft under kitchen. He pulled out because we could not find out if it had been capped off. The house is back on market and they are not telling buyers about mine shaft. I am angry as my son so easily could have bought house then may not be able sell it. Should they advertise the mine shaft?

    Comment by Michelle mirse — March 23, 2018 @ 8:27 pm

  68. Hi Phil. You should inform the estate agent who should pass this information on to the sellers and prospective buyers before a viewing. Do let us know what the estate agents says. If you get fobbed off we’d like to know so we can inform the Regulator. Angela

    Comment by AKerr — March 27, 2018 @ 7:23 pm

  69. I was a tenant in a property in Northwood Middlesex and we had huge problems with damp in the house which shorted out the electricity. Rather than fix the problem after we reported it we were given a termination notice by the landlord who stated he had decided to sell. One wall in the dining room was particularly badly affected and the plaster was badly damaged. To fix the problem all of the plaster should have been removed and damp proofing should have been injected into the wall which should then be allowed to dry out for 4-6 weeks before the electric sockets were reconnected and new plaster applied. On the day we moved out of the property the landlord had a builder plaster over the damage and reconnect the electrical sockets that previously had water streaming out of them. I am concerned that the landlord is trying to cover up the issue and any potential buyer will be unaware of the issue. There was also a leak in the conservatory roof during our tenancy which the landlord patch fixed by injecting expanding foam (this is a porous material and will eventually let water in). We also suspect that the roof or loft bay window is leaking.
    My question is as the owner is selling and is attempting to cover up these issues how do I inform potential buyers of the issues? Should I contact the estate agents handling the sale to ensure potential buyers know what they are trying to hide? Does the owner / seller have a legal obligation to inform buyers of the issues?

    Comment by Phil Rogers — March 21, 2018 @ 12:41 pm

  70. Thanks Bob. It’s not illegal for them to advertise the home again on Rightmove and there isn’t an obligation on the seller or estate agent to set out everything about the property in that advert. But the estate agent is obliged to tell prospective buyers anything material that may affect their buying decision. So now they are aware of the historical subsidence they must inform people viewing the property in future. You might just send them an email reminding them of this to avoid people spending money unnecessarily in future. If you suspect, or better have evidence, that the agents knew about the subsidence in advance, you could make a formal complaints but it looks like you don’t want to do that. Here are details about how to complain -https://hoa.org.uk/advice/guides-for-homeowners/i-am-selling/how-to-resolve-disputes-with-estate-agents-a-guide-for-sellers/ – it starts with asking the agent for their complaints procedure. But be aware as a buyer you aren’t actually in a contractual arrangement with the estate agent. They are there to serve the interests of the seller who pays them to market the property. In the meantime, we are trying to get homebuyers better information, earlier in the process and have been campaigning for just this. See https://hoa.org.uk/campaigns/end-home-selling-chaos/

    Comment by AKerr — March 8, 2018 @ 1:13 pm

  71. I recently commenced the purchase of a property which I saw advertised on Rightmove. I subsequently discovered that it had historical subsidence and underpinning and as a result pulled out of the deal. This cost me surveyors and solicitors fees for the initial work done. I challenged the estate agents Pearsons of Hythe who said that, if they had been aware of the issue, then they would have mentioned it to me. I would not even have viewed the place if I had known of this. The house was withdrawn from the market after I my offer had been accepted but now, after I have pulled out, it is back on Rightmove and still there is no mention of subsidence in the particulars. I think that this is illegal but to whom should I report the issue and can this be anonymous – Hythe is a very small town and I am very likely to bump into the agents when I eventually buy another place and move into the area.

    Comment by bob — March 8, 2018 @ 11:53 am

  72. Hi Joy,
    What a shock! So sorry to hear about this. It sounds like this is something that should have been picked up by your conveyancer, the estate agent and your seller. Take a look to see what was said on the property information form (TA6/7) – they are required to complete it truthfully. You can start the process by complaining to the estate agent – see our guide here – https://hoa.org.uk/advice/guides-for-homeowners/i-am-selling/how-to-resolve-disputes-with-estate-agents-a-guide-for-sellers/. But do consider joining us so our home helpline advisers can go through the various options with you. Our legal advice line can help you decide whether you want to go further and take legal action. Here you will find a little more about the benefits of membership – https://hoa.org.uk/homeowners-alliance-membership/. Paula

    Comment by Paula — January 2, 2018 @ 1:52 pm

  73. Recently discovered through my own efforts that a property we were in the process of buying was very close to a field where planning permission had just been granted for 166 homes, build to start in spring with a duration of at least 4 years. Do we have any redress?

    Comment by Joy — December 2, 2017 @ 8:47 am

  74. Hi Katy,

    Initially you may wish to pursue the RICs complaints procedure as they are responsible for ensuring that their professionals and firms meet the requirements of their Rules of Conduct. If you get no resolution here you could consider taking the surveyor to court, you may even be eligible for legal aid if you meet the relevant criteria since the surveyor missing a structural issue could be deemed professional negligence. If you were to become a member of HOA our Helpline staff can assist you further and you would also benefit from access to a legal advice line service to discuss your legal options.

    best wishes,

    Comment by Sophie Khan — September 29, 2017 @ 3:01 pm

  75. Hello, I wonder if you can help me please. I asked for a structural survey in a coal mining area. I have purchased a 1954 built bungalow, now found to contain grade 2 level red ash. We found this out because of the amount of damp we have had to deal with, no DPM, but more importantly, that there is a 120mm drop over an 8m stretch, when using a spirit level. This was never picked up on our survey.. the surveyor stated that ‘where measured floors and walls were level’. ~Clearly this is not the case, and a builder who was supposed to do some work for us, insisted we have the test done before work cud commence. I now have to vacate my property and spend over 23 thousand pounds of my own capital to put this right, and hopefully not more. The surveyor I used is RICS so he has indemnity insurance. Would he be liable for this at all, as this is a mining area in cannock, west midlands. He was recommended to me by the estate agent selling the property. I was a cash buyer, so there was no need to check for red ash for a mortgage, Much appreciated for your response on this matter. Kind regards Katy Le Sage

    Comment by katy le sage — September 29, 2017 @ 9:59 am

  76. That’s terrible news, Mark. The estate agents should have marketed it as a 2 bed if it hasn’t got proper consents for use as a bedroom. Maybe they weren’t made aware by the vendor. There are options like indemnity insurance – see https://hoa.org.uk/services/ask-an-expert-2/ask-an-expert-i-am-selling-questions/selling-without-building-regulations/ . Without having more details, all I can advise is speak to your solicitor/conveyancer for advice. Angela

    Comment by AKerr — September 11, 2017 @ 10:17 am

  77. We were about to exchange on a so called 3 bed house which was marketed as such however it is indeed a 2 bed with loft room as there is no planning or building regs? The agents are not coming up with a solution and the vendors will not lower the cost?! I am about to be homeless as I need to be out of my house in a week? We also pulled out of another house because this one was a 3 bed? We are now out of pocket, lost a house and now potentially homeless

    Comment by Mark Price — August 30, 2017 @ 11:31 am

  78. Buying or selling my advice is never trust an estate agent.
    They often hide the truth in sneaky ways and if they get caught out they deny knowledge of the subject and claim that they were misinformed or mislead themselves. Remember, the bottom line is that an estate agent is there to make money, and not to do you any favours. In most cases things go fine and you would be better picking one that you have personal knowledge of or someone you trust has knowledge of. Remember, even the best and most well know still get it wrong as I learned to my cost.

    Comment by David — July 27, 2017 @ 8:27 am

  79. P. S.. Sorry to hijack the postings but (!) they even told us they’d had a asbestos clearance when they bought it 2 yes ago (2015). Our surveyors report states asbestos roofing to rear. He also clearly states that the house is without any doubt well over market price (even the £17k we reduced buy) due to the huge concerns. He also agrees with a survey done 8 yrs ago that the house has recent movement and coukd potentially require underpining and be ‘cash buyers only’ status…. Again!! We are so concerned that someone wilil take this house on without the full expertise of a full building structural survey. Surely the estate agebt has to let potential buyers know the information he has full details

    Comment by LC — April 14, 2017 @ 12:29 am

  80. This is so interesting to see. My first search regarding it too! Exactly same happened to us this month. We saw property online. House looked great. Substantial property. Images beautiful via online estate agents. We requested extra pics for rear of property and garden. But rest house looked stunning. These showed a very neglected area. We travelled 400 miles in the day to view. Huge surprise walking in. House woefully different to online photos. We could see huge potential though and put in a £20k reduction offer. £17k was accepted. Buyers showed us varying aspects of paperwork supporting soundness of house. We spoke about cracks/ing.. Felt reassured. Enlisted an excellent structural survey. £840! Plus £160 mining search. Survey back this wk. Huge huge issues!! We withdrew offer. Kept buyers in loop all times. Then our final reasons giving sympathetic advice we’d received that active movement shoukd be monitored for 6-12 months, areas of structural damage, and weaknesses recorded by surveyor. We had no responding message back but same day, and after WE’D TOLD the dealing local agent, it’s back on market this week for same price and no amendments to blurb. It’s a mugs game. £1000 lost for us. And potential naive buyer could be buying a pup. Surely it needs to be clear and a fair overview of a concerning house?

    Comment by LC — April 14, 2017 @ 12:20 am

  81. Buying a property but just discovered it’s of Non Standard Consruction,
    Should the agent have informed me before I got a surveyor in

    Comment by Gail Smith — April 26, 2016 @ 6:53 pm

  82. Not sure you can help me on this one I’m bidding for a house I understand the agents can’t tell me what the highest bid is.but could he someone had bid higher than me to get more money from me

    Comment by Carol Brocklebank — March 14, 2016 @ 8:03 pm

  83. Not sure if you can help me on this one .im bidding on a house .i understand the agents can’t tell me what the highest bid is .but what I would like to know if I bid the highest amount .would he say someone had bid higher just to get more money from me

    Comment by Carol Brocklebank — March 14, 2016 @ 7:54 pm

  84. Do estate agents have to give my name to the seller

    Comment by Nudge — March 1, 2016 @ 2:18 am

  85. I was purchasing a property, had survey done, solicitor did searches and found there had been subsidence done on the property 20 years ago. The vendors, family member of deceased person and solicitor claim they did not know this about the property. Paperwork could not be found and then surprise, paperwork was found. This was not informative, more receipt like, no confirmation of where or how much subsidence had been done. I withdrew my offer. Subsequently, the property is back on the market and no mention of subsidence in the particulars on line. Somebody has phoned up and was not informed of
    The subsidence. Are the estate agents acting unlawfully?

    Comment by Sue cook — November 18, 2014 @ 7:54 am

  86. Should the particulars of a property state that a property is Grade II listed if it is and also if it is in a conservation area?

    Comment by Shelley Aitkenhead — July 25, 2014 @ 2:42 pm


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