Q. I believe I have been grossly misled by my Estate Agent with regards to the property I am buying. A friend has mentioned that this is a serious offence and that I can report them, can you advise?

A. It is important that the descriptions of property given by Estate Agents on property details and in advertisements must be as accurate as possible. If descriptions are not accurate or misleading, potential buyers may waste time (and also money) viewing and offering on property which may prove unsuitable because of an inaccurate description. The Property Misdiscriptions Act 1991 applies equally to Estate Agents, Property Developers and Solicitors selling property. The aim of The Property Misdiscriptions Act is to ensure that descriptions of property are accurate and not misleading. The Act is enforced by local trading standard’s officers. They see their job as giving advice about legislation as well as enforcing legislation. If you have a problem I would suggest you speak to your local Trading standards officer for advice. TSO’S have considerable powers of investigation, and are able to enter the offender’s premises on production of their credentials and extract information from files, copy documents, seize goods and papers, and obtain printouts from computers. Any breach of the act is a criminal offence and penalties on conviction are

  • A maximum fine of £5,000 in the magistrates court (and a criminal conviction)
  • An unlimited fine in the crown court (and a criminal conviction)
  • A possible prohibition order as it is a trigger offence under the Estate Agents Act 1979

As always, my best advice is that you deal with an agent that is a member of The National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), these agents are regulated by the body and strictly adhere to a code of practice.