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Hi there,

 

I hope someone can help me, I am just not sure what to do.

 

To cut a long story short, I suffer from Multiple Sclerosis and have had to relocate hundreds of miles away from an apartment that I own. I decided to sell the apartment as I cannot reasonably undertake the stress of owning/renting a property so far away.

 

So I spoke to some agents in the local area over the phone and one agent seemed very friendly and responsive. ( They are a national chain ).

 

So after speaking with him for a short while via email, as I don't get chance to use the phone at work he agreed to market my property.

 

He sent me some paperwork via email (PDF) documents of the agencies standard terms of business. I have attached the exact documents he sent me.

 

 

[ATTACH=CONFIG]44065[/ATTACH]

 

[ATTACH=CONFIG]44068[/ATTACH]

 

Further to this, I asked if he needed me to complete all of these details just before marketing a property to see the response I would get ( the property market isn't great and I am in negative equity so didn't know what the response would be )

 

Anyway he said no and a signature on the document would be just fine for now ( over the phone to me ) so I placed a scanned copy of my signature on the document in the buyer's copy of the document. Leaving all the other details completely blank and then just emailed it back to him. I have attached what I returned t him.

 

[ATTACH=CONFIG]44067[/ATTACH]

 

A few months later, after pushing the agency on why i have had no interest on the property they drastically reduced the price and I ended up getting an offer for the apartment.

 

So one day I decided to go and see the agent with a friend of mine ( a Dr. ). I spoke to him in the branch about the fact that we had never ever discussed any fees or agreement between us and yet he had already sold the property. At which point he advised me he had given me a discount on the standard fees and had applied a fixed fee of over £2000! ( that's over 4% of the property sale price).

 

I then noticed on the computer in front of him that he had my documents up on the screen. So I asked him to show me the document I had signed months back and emailed to him. Upon him opening the file it was completely filled in!!

 

All the following details

 

    Changing the date I signed the document to the same day he signed the document

    Completing the entire document including his fees

    Signing a box on the document on my behalf that I was happy to pass my details onto their "conveyancing partner"

    Indicating on the form the document was signed in his presence

    He also kindly filled in my personal details with a made up driving licence number, dates of birth etc stating that he had verified the original documentation

 

Upon me reading this on his screen in disbelief I asked him if he had completed the document, he replied that he had. I also advised him that I have never seen this document since the day I emailed him the blank one back to which he agreed. I then asked him to print a copy for me so I could at least read it which he was hesitant to do so as I had to ask him on 2 occasions for the print out.

 

I have since contacted the head office of the chain and have been communicating with a "customer relations" representative. She has after 4 weeks of "investigation" returned to me with a 4 page document that is full of false statements in regards to my dealings with them and advising that "I" must have had all of this information beforehand and that there was no underhand activity taken by the agent in the branch. Despite the fact that I have a print out of the forms that have false information all over them.

 

I have communicated with the agency via email for the majority of the time and have all the emails and documents as evidence as well a witness to the fact that the agent admitted to completing the document himself.

 

But I am in total disbelief that the national agency's head office have responded in this manner and just do not know how to proceed. As mentioned previously I suffer from Multiple Sclerosis and the situation really is having a detrimental impact on my welbeing as a consequence of the stress this is causing.

 

If anybody can offer me some guidance or advice I would really appreciate it.

Edited by thinkscientist
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When you say "made-up" DOB and driving license number, are they the correct details or not?

 

The best thing to do might be to escalate to the Property Ombudsman.

Edited by slick132
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When you say "made-up" DOB and driving license number, are they the correct details or not?

 

The best thing to do might be to escalate to the Property Ombudsman.

 

Precisely, they are incorrect. What's funny is that the agent has tried to be really smart and make a "believable" driving licence number up, as in the license number starts with my surname but then goes horribly wrong with incorrect structure and digits.

Edited by slick132
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Interesting. Filling in forms for people is very bad practice but is common. However making up personal details is clear evidence of fraud, pure and simple - it was foolish of the agent to fill them in, he would be better off leaving it blank. I would try and get in touch with The Property Ombudsman. The other option is court but it sounds like court could be too high stress for you.

 

You need to think about what kind of result you want to get out of this. If no fee was agreed you will have to pay a 'reasonable' fee. This link suggests the national average is about 1.8%: http://www.which.co.uk/news/2011/03/estate-agents-fees-exposed-248666/. However, you would expect a higher percentage for lower value properties.... if £2000 is 4% of the property price, your property was sold for £50000.... I do not know very much about estate agent fees but to me a fixed fee of £2000 actually sounds quite low. The link I posted suggests that Bridgfords' had a minimum fee of £2250 in 2011.

 

If the agent has genuinely given you a discount on their standard fees, and they are charging similar fees to what other local estate agents charge, then a fee of around £2000 will be seen as a 'reasonable' fee. If this is the case then regrettably I do not think you have anything to gain from this financially. Filling in made-up details is still a professional conduct issue which should be reported but this by itself is unlikely to result in you getting any compensation.

Edited by slick132
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Thanks for the advice steampowered, really appreciate you reading my post and responding,

 

When you say the other option is court, what would I have to do?

 

Is this something I should tell the police?

Edited by slick132
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Hi TS,

 

Who has handled the conveyancing in this matter - a solicitor instructed by the agent, or your own.

 

Can you confirm the approx agreed sale price, so we have an idea of the percentage that the £2000 fee represents.

 

:-)

Edited by slick132
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Well they passed my details onto a conveyancer without my permission too by signing the box that agreed to pass my details on to them.

 

The conveyancers seemed ok and I have so far been dealing with them. Do you think I should tell them I'm not going to go through them? What are the ramifications?

 

Properly sale price is 52,000 fees is £2250 (which is discounted apparently just for me)

 

Hi TS,

 

Who has handled the conveyancing in this matter - a solicitor instructed by the agent, or your own.

 

Can you confirm the approx agreed sale price, so we have an idea of the percentage that the £2000 fee represents.

 

:-)

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Hi TS,

 

I would have expected the agent to act professionally by confirming, when he first took on the property, the exact terms of business. This would of course include his fees, the change in those fees if you went multi-agency, the term during which he had exclusive rights to market the ppty on a sole agency basis, etc.

 

Have you been given a figure for the conveyancing work.

 

In the circumstances, I would certainly suggest to the agent that you consider his actions to have been questionable, not only about filing in forms that YOU were supposed to complete, but also about his failure to notify you of his fees at the start of your relationship. At least then, you would have had the opportunity to go elsewhere to get comparable quotes.

 

You could suggest he reduces the fee if you want, so you feel less inclined to make a formal complaint about his actions.

 

Beyond that, I think you should conclude your business with the sale and leave the matter behind.

 

In future, don't leave such important matters to chance and have everything confirmed in writing from the outset.

 

:-)

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Hi TS,

 

I would have expected the agent to act professionally by confirming, when he first took on the property, the exact terms of business. This would of course include his fees, the change in those fees if you went multi-agency, the term during which he had exclusive rights to market the ppty on a sole agency basis, etc.

 

Have you been given a figure for the conveyancing work.

 

In the circumstances, I would certainly suggest to the agent that you consider his actions to have been questionable, not only about filing in forms that YOU were supposed to complete, but also about his failure to notify you of his fees at the start of your relationship. At least then, you would have had the opportunity to go elsewhere to get comparable quotes.

 

You could suggest he reduces the fee if you want, so you feel less inclined to make a formal complaint about his actions.

 

Beyond that, I think you should conclude your business with the sale and leave the matter behind.

 

In future, don't leave such important matters to chance and have everything confirmed in writing from the outset.

 

:-)

 

Thanks for the advice, first time I'm selling a property...I've learnt a heck of a lot from this experience..

 

Am I right in assuming my contract with the agency is invalid...

 

In my opinion, the agent has committed a crime under the fraud act, by lying about my driving licence details; broken the laws on the money laundering regulations and by signing a box to pass my details onto 3rd parties, broken some privacy laws. Not to mention violated the estate agents act and the property ombudsmans code of conduct.

 

Given the stress the agency has caused me and how their behaviour has been I don't think I should pay them anything. Surely I am under no obligation too as our contract is a falsified document and therefore void?

Edited by slick132
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Your MS diagnosis is irrelevent IMO unless EA was aware that you were not of sound mind when instructing them to market your property.

Is EA a member of any national trade organisation to whom you could complain?

Did you keep copies of details you provided, as evidence to support your allegation of subs tampering with form?

Do you hold a driving licence?

OFT and/or Property Ombudsman may be interested but as for Court claim it would appear you contracted with EA to sell your property at best price avail. subject to your acceptance.

Is trhe price offered by buyer acceptable? EA fees not withstanding.

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In my opinion, the agent has committed a crime under the fraud act, by lying about my driving licence details; broken the laws on the money laundering regulations and by signing a box to pass my details onto 3rd parties, broken some privacy laws. Not to mention violated the estate agents act and the property ombudsmans code of conduct.

 

Given the stress the agency has caused me and how their behaviour has been I don't think I should pay them anything. Surely I am under no obligation too as our contract is a falsified document and therefore void?

 

I do not think you are right to assume that your contract with the agency is invalid. Ultimately, you still instructed them to sell your property and you knew of their terms. You can still have a contract even if nothing is signed.

 

Now you could say that there was no agreement about the fee. If a court agreed witht his, you still instructed them to provide services and thus you would have to pay a reasonable fee. As you already received a discount to their standard fee I think it is unlikely that a reasonable fee would be much less than what you are currently being asked to pay.

 

I am not convinced this is a crime under the Fraud Act; filling in your driving license details was dishonest, but for fraud the act must also be intended to result in a monetary gain and as the estate agent was already instructed I do not think the requirements for fraud are met. Signing a box to pass your details to third parties is a breach of the Data Protection Act, but a breach that is easily rectified by writing to the estate agent withdrawing consent to pass on your details. No doubt this is a breach of the Property Ombudsman Code of Conduct and could merit a complaint. The Ombudsman would probably give them a ticking off but unfortunately I do not think any of this relieves from you your obligation to pay the estate agent for their services.

 

Ultimately, despite their wrongdoing, you still instructed the estate agent to sell your property and they successfully provided this service - so payment is due. You could ask for a discount - particularly in view of the fact that you could cause trouble for them with an Ombudsman complaint - but I think it is unrealistic to expect to get away from this without paying anything.

Edited by slick132
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Thanks for the advice, first time I'm selling a property...I've learnt a heck of a lot from this experience..

 

Am I right in assuming my contract with the agency is invalid...

 

In my opinion, the agent has committed a crime under the fraud act, by lying about my driving licence details; broken the laws on the money laundering regulations and by signing a box to pass my details onto 3rd parties, broken some privacy laws. Not to mention violated the estate agents act and the property ombudsmans code of conduct.

 

Given the stress the agency has caused me and how their behaviour has been I don't think I should pay them anything. Surely I am under no obligation too as our contract is a falsified document and therefore void?

 

Your post has been edited to avoid CAG carrying defamatory remarks or allegations.

 

As I suggested above, I think you should conclude your business with them as soon as poss and leave the whole sorry episode behind you.

 

Speak with the EA to calmly voice your concerns and explain why you feel they failed to act professionally (filling in info on your behalf, falsifying info, failing to confirm the terms of business, etc). If you want to, tell him you feel he should discount the fee to £xxxx because, if you're not happy about the result, you will raise these issue with his Head Office (again), the Ombudsman and the ICO.

 

Despite what the EA has done wrong, he HAS sold your ppty and you should not expect the service to be free.

 

I should have said before, about the conveyancer, it would be foolish to change to another one now as the one who has acted so far would expect to be paid for any service provided already. Changing wil therefore only cost you more which is NOT what you want or need.

 

:-)

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I do not think you are right to assume that your contract with the agency is invalid. Ultimately, you still instructed them to sell your property and you knew of their terms. You can still have a contract even if nothing is signed.

 

Now you could say that there was no agreement about the fee. If a court agreed witht his, you still instructed them to provide services and thus you would have to pay a reasonable fee. As you already received a discount to their standard fee I think it is unlikely that a reasonable fee would be much less than what you are currently being asked to pay.

 

I am not convinced this is a crime under the Fraud Act; filling in your driving license details was dishonest, but for fraud the act must also be intended to result in a monetary gain and as the estate agent was already instructed I do not think the requirements for fraud are met. Signing a box to pass your details to third parties is a breach of the Data Protection Act, but a breach that is easily rectified by writing to the estate agent withdrawing consent to pass on your details. No doubt this is a breach of the Property Ombudsman Code of Conduct and could merit a complaint. The Ombudsman would probably give them a ticking off but unfortunately I do not think any of this relieves from you your obligation to pay the estate agent for their services.

 

Ultimately, despite their wrongdoing, you still instructed the estate agent to sell your property and they successfully provided this service - so payment is due. You could ask for a discount - particularly in view of the fact that you could cause trouble for them with an Ombudsman complaint - but I think it is unrealistic to expect to get away from this without paying anything.

 

 

First of all many thanks again for giving me a few minutes of your time, it really is appreciated. So to be clear the estate agent hasn't sold my property yet. It is still for sale and whilst I have had offers from buyers which I have accepted, I have not actually sold the property, no exchange or completion.

 

To be honest, I just don't want to deal with this agent in any shape or form as I have lost all trust and the situation is stressful. Can I not just inform them to stop marketing my property, tell them there is no agreement between us as it's a false document and then just go and find another agent or find a buyer myself.

 

In parallel make a complaint to the relevant authorities.

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I think this would be a very risky strategy. Generally speaking, once you sign something you are bound by it. My understanding is that you did sign their terms and conditions and you did instruct them to market the property. Entering your DOB or driving license details are not a legal requirement for a contract to be valid, and these details have very little to do with your contract with the estate agent (they are there so that the estate agent can comply with its obligations to make sure their services are not being used to launder the proceeds of crime which does not involve you). Unfortunately I do not think the falsification of these details affects your consent to the terms of the agreement.

 

Clause 5 of the terms allows you to terminate their engagement on two weeks' written notice. So write to them and give your two weeks' notice terminating the agreement. This should get you away from them, subject to the following caveat.

 

The agreement has an important distinction between sole agency and multiple agency. If they were instructed on a sole agent basis you are required to pay the fee if you exchange contracts with a purchaser introduced to you during the contract period. Note that the fee is payable even if you wait to exchange contracts until after the period, and is payable even if the purchaser was introduced by another estate agent. However If they were instructed on a multiple agency basis you would only be required to pay the fee if contracts are exchanged with a buyer introduced by them. If the agreement you returned to them did not explain whether they were instructed on a sole or multiple agency basis I imagine they would have difficulty showing sole agency if this reached court.

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I think this would be a very risky strategy. Generally speaking, once you sign something you are bound by it. My understanding is that you did sign their terms and conditions and you did instruct them to market the property. Entering your DOB or driving license details are not a legal requirement for a contract to be valid, and these details have very little to do with your contract with the estate agent (they are there so that the estate agent can comply with its obligations to make sure their services are not being used to launder the proceeds of crime which does not involve you). Unfortunately I do not think the falsification of these details affects your consent to the terms of the agreement.

 

Clause 5 of the terms allows you to terminate their engagement on two weeks' written notice. So write to them and give your two weeks' notice terminating the agreement. This should get you away from them, subject to the following caveat.

 

The agreement has an important distinction between sole agency and multiple agency. If they were instructed on a sole agent basis you are required to pay the fee if you exchange contracts with a purchaser introduced to you during the contract period. Note that the fee is payable even if you wait to exchange contracts until after the period, and is payable even if the purchaser was introduced by another estate agent. However If they were instructed on a multiple agency basis you would only be required to pay the fee if contracts are exchanged with a buyer introduced by them. If the agreement you returned to them did not explain whether they were instructed on a sole or multiple agency basis I imagine they would have difficulty showing sole agency if this reached court.

 

Agreed, I did sign their terms and conditions but at the time of signing, there were no details of any property, fees, whether they would be acting as sole agency or any other information for that matter. in essence I agreed to nothing for nothing if that makes sense?

 

So I don't understand how they could enforce anything apart from the fact that I signed for agreeing to nothing?

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If you ask someone to do work without discussing payment (which you did when you signed their form) then they are entitled to request reasonable payment for the work done even if payment was not agreed in advance.

 

You may be being reasonable by believing that they are taking advantage of you but there aren't many laws against taking advantage of people.

 

But (it appears) you did ask them to sell your property and you've been proceeding with the sale presumably with the expectation that you would *have* to pay something.

 

So I would start thinking about what you want to do and stop thinking about the hole you are in: Do you want to sell the place for 4%? Do you want to negotiate the 4%? Do you want to start again with a different agent?

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If you ask someone to do work without discussing payment (which you did when you signed their form) then they are entitled to request reasonable payment for the work done even if payment was not agreed in advance.

 

You may be being reasonable by believing that they are taking advantage of you but there aren't many laws against taking advantage of people.

 

But (it appears) you did ask them to sell your property and you've been proceeding with the sale presumably with the expectation that you would *have* to pay something.

 

So I would start thinking about what you want to do and stop thinking about the hole you are in: Do you want to sell the place for 4%? Do you want to negotiate the 4%? Do you want to start again with a different agent?

 

I think I just want to be rid of the agents completely and will just market and sell the property myself using gumtree or eBay etc.

 

Is there any reason why I need an agent?

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Hi TS,

 

An agent local to the ppty will hold keys and deal with viewings. Can you deal with this matter remotely ?

 

Also, while there is no need to necessarily use an estate agent, I would suggest that an EA is the best chance you have of selling the ppty for the best price.

 

Either resolve the issues by negotiating with the current agent.

 

Or negotiate about your wish to dis-instruct them due to their failings. In doing this, however, you MUST ensure they agree to release you from any possible charge in the event that you sell the ppty when they claim you are bound by a contract with them.

 

:-)

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Although there was no agreement about the price you did sign the terms and conditions, and are therefore more than likely bound by the terms and conditions.

 

However, the T&Cs do allow you to terminate the engagement on two weeks' written notice. I think the most sensible approach would be to write to them formally terminating their engagement and wait two weeks' before marketing the property yourself or through a different agent.

Edited by steampowered

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In #17 OP asks if he needs an agent. Poss not if he can widely advertise the property, do the nec groundwork and comply with the legislative procedures for sale?

EAs provide this service,for a % of final sale price, yet OP thinks he can do all this for poss multiple prospective buyers at lower cost, yet he cannot engage an acceptable EA.

If appointed EA screws up, OP MAY have a claim for compensation. If OP screws up he is fully liable for fallout.

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In #17 OP asks if he needs an agent. Poss not if he can widely advertise the property, do the nec groundwork and comply with the legislative procedures for sale?

EAs provide this service,for a % of final sale price, yet OP thinks he can do all this for poss multiple prospective buyers at lower cost, yet he cannot engage an acceptable EA.

If appointed EA screws up, OP MAY have a claim for compensation. If OP screws up he is fully liable for fallout.

 

Well since you make it sounds like that, it does sound scary!

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