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October 2009

OFT's first ban over redress rules

THE Office of Fair Trading has issued its first ban on an estate agency for failing to join a redress scheme — a year after the stipulation came into effect.

Prohibition orders have been made 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 Mr Dunn and Mr Wren were served with a £1,000 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 October 1, 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, the OFT’s 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.”