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National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team launches new industry guidance on referral fees

National Trading Standards has today published new guidance on referral fees received by estate agents across the UK, which will make previously hidden fees open and transparent to consumers.

The new guidance was produced by the NTS Estate Agency Team with assistance from NAEA Propertymark, the Property Ombudsman, Property Redress Scheme, the Guild of Property Professionals and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. It will work to improve transparency in the estate agency sector as part of the government’s aim to improve the home buying and selling process.

The NTS Estate Agency team was asked to examine the legal controls around the transparency of such fees in the sector by government officials last year. The team concluded that referral fees for connected services are permissible, but should be disclosed by agents to sellers and buyers alike.

Heather Wheeler, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, said that the government wanted referral fees to be transparent and would consider banning the fees if this could not be achieved by the industry.

National Trading Standards will report to Ministers on compliance with its guidance after monitoring the market for the coming 12 months.

James Munro from the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team said:

“It is important for customers to be aware of any referral fees that an estate agent is receiving for recommending a service such as conveyancing, legal services or other connected service, so that they can make an informed decision about whether to take up the offer or shop around for a better deal.

“I would like to thank the professional bodies and redress schemes for their support in developing this guidance and would urge estate agents to comply with the guidance as soon as possible.

“Agents who need further advice should contact their professional body or trade association. Members of the public should raise any concerns about referral fees not being disclosed to Citizen’s Advice on 03454 04 05 06.”

The new guidance is available to download from the National Trading Standards website.

Notes to Editors

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For more information or for general enquiries about National Trading Standards please call 020 7025 7570 or e-mail nationaltradingstandards@grayling.com.

Notes to editors

About National Trading Standards

  • National Trading Standards provides leadership influence, support and resources to help combat consumer and business detriment locally, regionally and nationally
  • The National Trading Standards Board is a group of senior and experienced local government heads of trading standards, representing all trading standards services across England and Wales. The Board has been set up by the Government as part of changes to the consumer protection landscape and an enhanced role for trading standards.
  • National Trading Standards teams are based within local authority trading standards services
  • The National Trading Standards Agency Team (NTSEAT) protects consumers and businesses by enforcing the Estate Agents Act (1979).
  • For more information please visit www.nationaltradingstandards.uk