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Enforcement of the Act

Enforcement action that can be carried out under the Estate Agents Act 1979 includes:

  • warning orders
  • prohibition orders

Some parts of the Act are not in force yet. These are:

  • insurance cover for clients' money
  • regulation of pre-contract deposits outside Scotland
  • standards of competence.

The law can be enforced by:

  • the Office of Fair Trading
  • local authority trading standards departments
  • the Department of Economic Development (Northern Ireland).

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Powers of the Office of Fair Trading

The OFT can issue warning and prohibition orders that could stop you working as an estate agent. The OFT can require anyone, including clients and potential buyers, to give information or produce documents before deciding whether or not to issue an order or carry out other enforcement activities.

Making warning and prohibition orders

Warning and prohibition orders can be made against individuals, partnerships or companies, and anyone employed by them.

The OFT will issue a 'Notice of Proposal' before making an order. This gives you at least 21 days to explain why the proposed order should not be made.

You can download our guidance note below, to help you decide what to do if you receive a letter with a Notice of Proposal under the Estate Agents Act 1979. Also contains a form you can use to respond to the Adjudicator.

Download Notice of Proposal - your right to make representations (pdf 44 kb)

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Warning orders

The OFT can issue a warning order if you break the law relating to:

  • information on charges
  • definition of terms
  • your personal interest in a sale
  • information to clients about offers
  • information to clients about services provided to buyers
  • misleading statements
  • bias against buyers
  • interest on clients' money.

If you breach the warning order, this could be proof that you are not considered fit to be an estate agent. You could be banned from further work under a prohibition order.

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Prohibition orders

These orders can ban someone from all, or some aspect of, estate agency work. A prohibition order can be made if you have:

  • breached a warning order
  • been convicted of fraud or other dishonesty, or violence
  • committed racial or sexual discrimination during your work as an estate agent
  • been convicted of specified offences
  • been convicted of certain offences under the Act
  • breached certain provisions of the Act
  • engaged in a practice declared undesirable under the Act.

A prohibition order can be issued whether or not a warning order was made previously. If you don't comply with a prohibition order, you have committed a criminal offence, and you could be fined.

Appeal against prohibition orders

You can appeal to the Secretary of State and then, on points of law only, to the High Court. In Scotland you can appeal to the Court of Session.

Back to: Estate Agents Act

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