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Estate & Managing Agents - Redress 

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:

• All estate 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 June 2007.

• 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 necessary.

• 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.