Establishing robust redress arrangements for consumers who
are treated unfairly in the home buying and selling process is a key part of the
Government’s strategy for overhauling the home buying and selling process. There are a
number of strands to this:
agents selling homes with HIPs will have to belong to an approved redress scheme. Applications for approval to operate these
schemes closed on 1 December 2006. We are working closely with DTI and other
stakeholders to assess the proposal submitted and expect a scheme to be in place by 1
The Consumers, Estate
Agents and Redress Bill currently before Parliament is seeking powers to extend independent redress schemes to cover
all estate agents’ activities, not
just those related to HIPs. It will no longer be possible for rogue estate agents to choose not to belong to a redress scheme.
This should help to drive up standards. Approved schemes will be expected to
cooperate with the OFT and make provision for the passing of information to the OFT
(or any other regulator) about infringements of the Estate Agents Act. This
will enable regulators to take appropriate action as a result of a complaint, if
The current patchwork of
statutory and voluntary redress arrangements across the home buying and selling market make it difficult for
consumers to know where to go when they have a grievance. To help here we intend
to put in place before June
a single point
to which buyers and seller can go to get advice as to where they should take their complaint.
This service is currently being provided by Consumer Direct, the consumer advice service
supported by the Office of
Fair Trading, in the six Area Trials.