Latest News

Buy-to-let mortgages stable despite overall market slowing

13 November 2019

Latest data has revealed an overall slowdown in mortgages despite the stability in the buy-to-let market with an expected further growth of 1 per cent in the next quarter. Read More...

Council of Dragons to advise Government on proptech

11 November 2019

Housing Minister Esther McVey has unveiled a new expert advisory council dedicated to the digital transformation of the property sector. The new Proptech dragons will advise ministers on how to support and grow the sector further, making it easier and cheaper to plan, build and buy new homes. Read More...

General Election 2019 – Time to Regulate and Reform the Housing Sector

04 November 2019

Ahead of the political parties finalising their manifestos for the forthcoming General Election, Propertymark has published its own ‘manifesto’ calling on the new Government to regulate and reform the housing sector. Read More...

Bournemouth estate agent ordered to pay for misleading customers

01 November 2019

A Bournemouth estate agent must pay out tens of thousands of pounds for misleading its customers and allowing one of its employees to value a house they wanted to own. Read More...

Internal communications lapse led to huge fine for estate agent

Thursday 07 November 2019

Agents are encouraged to review their internal communications procedures, after a prominent Reading estate agent was fined for failing to disclose that a flat was cladded with Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) until minutes after the sale was completed.

The failure to inform the buyer was due to lack of communication between the agent’s lettings team – who had the information – and the sales team, who were selling another flat in the same building.

Reading Borough Council brought a prosecution after the agent’s lettings team failed to pass the results of an inspection to their sales team, meaning the buyers were not made aware of the ACM – similar to the cladding found on Grenfell Tower – until after they had completed the purchase. Had they been aware of the ACM, the buyers claimed, they would have withdrawn from the sale.

In addition to the property in question – a private flat in Hanover House, Kings Road – the agent also let several flats in the same building. On 3 November 2017, an inspection of Hanover House found that the building’s cladding contained ACM.  The agent received the information on the day of the inspection, some two weeks before the sale was completed, but the information sat with the agent’s lettings team and was not shared with the sales team.

The sales team became aware of the ACM issue on 16 November, at which point they attempted to seek advice from Savills, who had instructed them on behalf of the owner. The sale was completed on the following day. Half an hour after collecting the keys, the buyers were told by the agent’s sales team about the ACM.

As ACM is not highlighted in regular conveyancing, the only way the buyers could have found out about this information is from the seller or the agent. No Government agreement was in place to deal with ACM cladding at the time. Facing unknown costs that could have run into tens of thousands of pounds, the buyers complained to Reading Borough Council’s Trading Standards team.

The agent acknowledged their error, pleading guilty at the earliest opportunity. In mitigation, it offered the firm’s previous good character, that it had compensated the buyers for management fees and loss of car parking, co-operated fully with the investigation and that a Government scheme was now in place that should manage the costs of replacing the cladding. They have also taken action to improve communications between its lettings and sales teams.

The agent was fined £30,000 and ordered by magistrates to pay costs of £2,646 and a victim surcharge of £170.

Grenfell Inquiry

The long-awaited phase one report on the public inquiry into the fire at Grenfell Tower on 14 June 2017 was released at the end of October 2019. Amongst the many recommendations in the report, putting evacuation plans in place for all high-rise buildings is paramount.
Although phase one of the inquiry has been limited to investigating the course of events during the night of 14 June 2017 and much work remains to be done, it has already become clear that some important steps need to be taken to improve fire safety in high-rise residential buildings.

The full report  

Propertymark Consumer Guides for buying and selling

Propertymark has information guides for anyone looking to buy or sell a property, including how to pick the perfect estate agent. 

Consumer guide 

Propertymark estate and lettings agent training

Propertymark has several online and in-house training courses giving agents the skills to succeed in the property industry, whether you’re just staring out, or looking to take the next step in your career