Other Agency Related Legislation

Published on 2015-08-07

Estate Agency

Cancellation of Contracts Made in a Consumer’s Home or Place of Work

Consumers must be given a seven day notice period in which they can cancel any contract signed in their home or place of work; the cooling off period is 14 days. Estate agency contracts signed in the consumer’s home must include:

  • a notice of the right to cancel, and
  • a form of cancellation noticed to be filled in.

If clients come to the estate agent’s office and sign a contract for the agent to sell their property, there is no right to cancel.

Breaching the Regulations is a criminal offence and estate agents can be fined up to £5,000.

The client can request an immediate start to the contract where they have a right to cancel but will then be responsible for reasonable expenses incurred if they do exercise the right to cancel. If they wish to cancel, the consumer must make a clear statement to the agent, which can be oral or written. In a dispute the consumer must prove a clear statement to cancel has been made, so in writing is preferable.

Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999

Under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999, contracts must be fair and balanced; an unfair term cannot be enforced and is not legally binding on the consumer. They should be written in plain language with explanation if necessary and should respect the best interests of the consumer who must be given time to read and understand any agreement. The Regulations require fairness and good faith.

The stated price charged for something cannot be unfair, providing it is set out in plain language. Individually negotiated terms are not deemed unfair and terms required by law cannot be unfair.

Lettings Agency

Fees and Deposits

The Accommodation Agencies Act 1953 covers fees and deposits relating to properties to let. It is an offence for agents to ask for or take money to register a potential tenant on their books. Agents cannot charge potential tenants for any service relating to finding a property to rent, for example, giving addresses or property details. But agents can charge tenants a fee or a deposit if it is directly related to a specific property the tenant plans to rent.

Advertising a Property

A property cannot be advertised by an agent without the owner’s consent and agents must take ‘reasonable steps’ to check the identities of property owners if they have any doubts.

Cancellation of Contracts

Where landlord clients sign agency contracts other than in the agent’s office, they need to be given a cooling off period of 14 days. Letting agency contracts signed in the landlord’s home or property to let must include:

  • a notice of the right to cancel, and
  • a form of cancellation noticed to be filled in.

Breaching the Regulations is a criminal offence and letting agents can be fined up to £5,000.

The landlord can request in writing an immediate start to the contract where they have a right to cancel but will then be responsible for reasonable expenses incurred if they do exercise the right to cancel.

Categories: Residential Sales Residential Lettings Legal Aspects of Sales Legal Aspects of Lettings