Estate agents shamed again
Posted: 22 Mar 2006 10:48:39 GMT
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has announced that two west London estate agents have been banned after subletting properties without the knowledge of their landlord owners.
It casts further doubt on the integrity of the industry following a revealing BBC documentary that exposed a series of dubious practices.
A number of firms were found to be overvaluing houses in an attempt to secure business while others supplied false documents to get their hands on mortgages. Other crooked behaviour included 'flyboarding' and refusing to pass on offers, while some agents faked signatures as a means of speeding up agreements.
The two estate agents banned by the OFT had both pleaded guilty to obtaining property by deception back in June 2005, but had continued to work in the industry in the intervening period.
Christine Wade, director of consumer regulation and enforcement for the OFT, has said that the ban was necessary to set an example to others, but consumers are becoming increasingly suspicious as evidence of malpractice mounts.
With rising house prices already adding strain to many buyers, a growing number are concerned that they are paying far more than is necessary to estate agents who may not be providing a particularly valuable service.