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Unscrupulous UK estate agents named on new online blacklist

The Office of Fair Trading is naming and shaming those who have broken the rules on its public register online for the first time.

Under the Estate Agents Act 1979 the OFT can issue warning and prohibition orders against individual estate agents or agencies who have broken the law.

The register, which can be browsed alphabetically or by date, provides a crucial tool allowing consumers to search whether the OFT has taken action against estate agents.

The information can also be used in order to report to the OFT suspected breaches by an estate agent of an existing warning or prohibition order.

'Under the law, estate agents must ensure they act in the best interests of their clients and that buyers and sellers are treated honestly, fairly and promptly. The online register gives consumers direct access to important information explaining where we have taken action against estate agents,' said Mike Haley, OFT Director of Consumer Practice.

The OFT can issue warning orders or take action with a view to banning estate agents where there is evidence that they have committed certain specified offences. These include fraud, other dishonesty, violence, and discrimination on the grounds of race or gender in the course of estate agency work.

Estate agents can also be penalised for engaging in residential estate agency work but failing to belong to an approved redress scheme, failing to comply with the requirements of the law, or engaging in specified undesirable practices.