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116/09 23 September 2009
The OFT has issued prohibition orders banning Wolfgang David Dunn, Sean Allen Wren and Astons GB Ltd, the Southampton estate agency they work for, from engaging in estate agency work.
An independent OFT adjudicator found that Mr Dunn, Mr Wren and Astons GB Ltd had breached the requirement on estate agents to belong to a redress scheme. They had also failed to pass on an offer from a potential purchaser and had intentionally failed to provide the OFT with information as required by the Estate Agents Act when it was conducting its investigation.
The OFT action came after Dunn and Wren were served with a £1000 penalty charge by Southampton Trading Standards Services for not being a member of a redress scheme. After they continually failed to join a scheme, the matter was referred to the OFT.
From 1 October 2008, all residential estate agents are required to join one of the two redress schemes currently approved by the OFT, operated by The Property Ombudsman and the Surveyors Ombudsman Service.
Charles Wallace, OFT Head of Estate Agency Enforcement, said:
'These are serious breaches and a reminder to all estate agents that by failing to join a redress scheme, they are likely to face a ban from the profession.'
'Home buyers also have the right to know that the estate agents they are dealing with are trustworthy and observe the law, and we will continue to take the strongest action against those who have demonstrated that they are not.'
The OFT's online public register, which lists estate agents that have been warned or banned from operating, can be viewed on the Estate Agents Public Register page.
1. Astons GB Ltd has a registered address is 395 Shirley Road, Southampton SO15 3JD.
2. Wolfgang David Dunn and Sean Allen Wren were given 28 days to appeal, but have not exercised that right.
3. The OFT can bar any person from estate agency work who has committed certain specific offences involving fraud, other dishonesty or violence, or who has committed racial or sexual discrimination in the course of estate agency work, or has failed to comply with the requirement placed on estate agents by the Estate Agents Act and is unfit to carry on estate agency work.
4. Under Part 9 of the Estate Agents Act, a warning order or a prohibition order can be issued if an estate agent fails to respond to a letter sent by the OFT.
5. The Consumers, Estate Agents and Redress Act 2007 (CEARA) allows the Secretary of State to require (by means of a redress scheme Order) those engaged in estate agency work in relation to residential property to be members of an approved redress scheme Under the CEARA the redress schemes need to be approved by the OFT. The CEARA is available on the UK Statute Law Database.
6. There are now two approved estate agents redress schemes. In June 2008 the OFT approved the Ombudsman for Estate Agents Company Limited's estate agents redress scheme - see press release 75/08 and in August approved the Surveyors Ombudsman Service estate agents redress scheme - see press release 96/08. Failure to join a scheme can result in a £1000 penalty charge notice, which may be followed by a ban.
7. CEARA introduces other changes to the Estate Agents Act which came in to force on 1 October 2008. These amendments give the OFT and Trading Standards Officers wider powers to inspect an estate agent's files on a transaction, and give the OFT more scope to consider an estate agents fitness to practice.
8. The order against Mr Wren was subsequently downgraded to a warning order.
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