If you find yourself displeased with your estate agent or the service they are providing, you might want to lodge a complaint, especially if you believe that their actions are negatively affecting your buying or selling interests.
To formally and successfully complain about your estate agent, there is an unofficial order of events you should follow, with each step ramping up the severity of your complaint. While you are free to approach the complaints procedure as you see fit (there are no laws telling you what you should and shouldn’t do), we strongly recommend you take a regimented and emotionless approach as to protect your own interests as closely as possible.
Speak to your agent
First, speak to your agent and express your displeasure. It might be an uncomfortable conversation (which you can bypass by sending an email rather than talking face-to-face), but, if your complaint is a reasonable one, a good agent will respond in a positive way and make immediate efforts to improve your relationship.
Contact your agent’s boss
If speaking to your agent doesn’t help, you should go over their head and contact their boss. Write a formal email or letter to the CEO of the estate agency in which you clearly and confidently state your complaint along with any relevant dates and documents to back up your assertions. You should also be sure to specifically request a timely response.
In the vast majority of cases, this should be enough for your complaint to be taken seriously and resolved – 99% of agents are good people and want their clients to be happy, not least because word-of-mouth recommendations are a vital part of their success.
Approach the ombudsman
If the estate agency themselves fail to satisfy your complaint, it’s time to take it to the next level by contacting the ombudsman.
An ombudsman is an independent and impartial party who will, free of charge, investigate unresolved complaints. If this investigation finds that you have been treated unfairly, or that your agent has had a detrimental affect on your buying or selling experience, they will fight on your behalf for a satisfactory resolution.
Every UK agent is legally obliged to be registered to one of two ombudsmen organisations, either The Property Ombudsman (TPO), or The Property Redress Scheme. Find out which of the two your agent is associated with and get in touch with them.
Contact the Local Council
If the ombudsman cannot or does not help you, your final step should be to contact your local council.
The ombudsman is there to protect you as a client of the property industry and should always be contacted before thinking about the local council but, as a citizen of the UK, you are also protected by a further series of rights and regulations, all of which broadly come together to mean your agent cannot work against your interests or force you into buying and selling positions you do not wish to be in.
However, the council will only be able to help you with certain complaints, such as harassment, so it’s best to start by writing a formal letter or email which clearly states your situation from which the council can decide whether or not they are able to intervene.
Have you complained about your estate agent? What kind of response did you get? Let us know in the comments section below.
And if you’re currently thinking about complaining but would like some advice, our property expert, Russell Quirk, is happy to offer some guidance – just drop us a message below.