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Property Search

11th June 2014

The cooling-off period has doubled from 7 days to 14 days, but according to a leading trainer in the industry, not many agents know of this change.

Julien O'Dell further states that most agents were not even aware that there was a 7 day cooling-off period, which reinforces the fact that clients should be using agents who are a member of a redress scheme and are up-to-date with changes in legislation. 

O’Dell said: “On my training travels around the country in recent months, I have come across a significant number of agents who were unaware of the imminent legislative changes affecting the point of instruction.

“These centre specifically on the cooling-off period that applies when a client signs to instruct an agent, and the agent’s responsibilities at that point.

“I have met agents who didn’t know this period was changing, or indeed when.

“In truth, there have even been some agents who didn’t know there was such a thing as a cooling-off period.”

The new regulations replace the existing rules regarding customers’ right to cancel contracts which are signed away from the agencies offices.

O'Dell warned: “There is a degree of ambiguity within the new regulations and agents will no doubt interpret their responsibilities in different ways, but ‘better safe than sorry’ would probably be a sensible mantra until test cases set precedents and clarify best practice.

“It seems likely that any test cases are likely to involve uninformed agents – clear proof that ignorance is NOT bliss.”

If a contract is signed in the office of the agency, they do not need to include a notice of the right to cancel for the consumer. If a contract is signed away from the office of the agent, the notice must be given to the consumer before they sign the contract. Where a contract is signed away from the agent’s premises, then there is a right to cancel and the cancellation notice must be given to the consumer before the contract is signed. However, there are a few issues with this as the legislation does seem to be slightly ambiguous. For example, if an agent visits the client at home, and leaves the contractor for the consumer to read and the consumer then brings the contract to the agent's office, does the cooling-off period apply?

As with any new legislation that has ambiguities, it is difficult to get more clarity on the issue as it needs to be tested and there needs to be case studies, which we will report here.

The legislative changes, and O'Dell's findings that agents are not aware of certain legislation further proves the importance of having a professional agent dealing with property matters. Monreal Shaw are a member of the Property Ombudsman and we regularly research new developments on the market so we can advise our clients of any changes.



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