Hi all on this thread. I have been posting on another thread concerning the uk agents OVP. There are a lot of similarities. The info below was posted on SPI & may prove useful for you
JAIL FOR UK-BASED AGENTS WHO MISLEAD UNDER NEW LAWS
UK, regulation, laws, jail, advertising, AIPP, OFT, BTS
New laws passed by the British government have clamped down on all businesses offering goods and services for sale from the UK to better protect consumers – with property agents coming under special mention in the legislation.
The main changes centre around the potential punishment handed out to agents who deliberately mislead or unfairly coerce buyers into a sale, through newspaper, TV, radio or online advertisements. Under the new Consumer Protection Regulations (CPR), passing on materially inaccurate information about market conditions, or selling a product with the intention of the consumer acquiring it at less than favourable market conditions can be punishable by a maximum £5,000 fine or 12 months in jail.
A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform told OPP that while several of the restrictions already existed under the Control of Misleading Advertisements Regulations 1988 (CMAR), these have been repealed by the CPRs. Previously the CMARs were only enforceable in the civil courts, where breaches of the new CPRs can be heard in a criminal court. The new laws will be enforced by the British Trading Standards (BTS) Department and the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).
Several examples of potential agent behaviour were highlighted in the CPR document, all punishable under the new regulations, including:
An agent falsely telling a consumer that prices for new houses will be increased in seven days time, in order to pressurise him/her into making an immediate decision to buy.
An estate agent wrongly telling a consumer that he/she has recently sold several houses in the same area, just like the one the consumer is viewing, at a certain price. If this is not true and he is making the claim in order to persuade the consumer to buy at an inflated price he is in breach of the CPRs.
An agent/developer falsely telling a buyer that prices in a certain area have risen by 30% y-o-y for five years for example.
How the BTS and the OFT plan to monitor the industry and penalise agents/developers who break the new rules is uncertain, however a report spokesperson said that existing trade-bodies and associations could be used to help punish offenders.
“There are alternative well-founded and effective systems of regulation (including self-regulation) in place in the UK,” said the spokesperson. “If enforcers are satisfied that complaints and cases are clearly within the scope of these systems and can be adequately dealt with by them, they will be able to refer such complaints and cases to the relevant body (to ensure that businesses comply with the CPRs).”
Paul Owen, chief executive of the Association of International Property Professionals (AIPP), told OPP that this is just another nail in the coffin for misleading advertisers, agents and developers.
“This sounds like a warning shot across the bows of unscrupulous companies in the industry,” he said. “Any decent agent knows that they cannot do these things, certainly our members do as it is in our code of conduct, but this just provides buyers with an extra level of security. While this is a positive move, how they plan on implementing the new laws is another matter. We will wait and see if they have the resources and time to bring some of the dodgy operators to book on this.”
The £185bn a year real estate industry in the UK has traditionally been self-regulated by trade bodies like the NAEA but a new scheme was launched by the Office of Fair Trading to make agents more accountable. The Ombudsman for Estate Agents, the main source of redress for consumers, now covers 12,344 estate agency branches in the UK and has the power to demand compensation up to £25,000. While membership of the scheme rose 60% last year, complaints rose by 48% to 870 (with 795 cases resolved). This compares with 8,000 complaints received by the OEA in 2006.
This message was last edited by wilma on 6/20/2008.