1 July 2014

As the pioneer organisation for providing redress for consumers in the residential property market, the Ombudsman for Estate Agents welcomes news of its approval to operate a redress scheme under the new Consumers, Estate Agents and Redress Act.

Membership currently stands at 12,699 branches (5,808 firms) representing around 85 per cent of residential estate agents and this percentage looks likely to grow now the CEAR approval has been received

"The ombudsman scheme was founded almost 20 years ago and has seen membership steadily increasing in recent years as residential estate agents have come to realise the value of having a redress scheme in place," said Bill McClintock, chairman of OEA Ltd, which operates the scheme.

"A significant majority of residential sales agencies in the UK, but especially in England and Wales, now belong to the OEA as a full member, with 7,612 branches involved in sales and 3,381 in sales and lettings. A further 953 branches cover lettings only and 753 branches (477 agencies) are registered just for their HIPs activities.

"However, agents still only registered for HIPs activities need to act before implementation expected on 1st October either to upgrade to full OEA membership or register with an Approved Scheme.

"The OEA will allow them to transfer across to full membership at no cost until their next renewal date.

"Buying agents will also be required to be part of an approved redress scheme once the law comes into effect, as will all estate agents in Northern Ireland and Scotland who do not belong to a scheme at the moment.

"Meanwhile, agents who have already become full members of the OEA need do nothing extra to comply with the new law. Consumers can be confident that where they see the familiar OEA logo they are already covered by independent redress.

"But I would just remind consumers that before they bring a dispute to the OEA they must ensure they have been through the member agent's own internal disputes procedure first. All member agents must have such a system in place.

"The Act will provide a basis for all residential estate agents to provide an approved Redress Scheme free buyers and sellers along with a number of other requirements designed to improve the service to consumers."

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