An estate agent has been fined a total of £40,034 after admitting a string of offences during the first day of a trial that followed an investigation by local Trading Standards.
Bournemouth Illsley & Son Ltd trading as Meridian Estate Agents was charged in March with 11 offences under Unfair Trading Regulations but, when the case came to court, the company admitted to nine of the offences.
These included five counts of engaging in a commercial practice which was misleading and contained false information, three counts of omitting information and one count of knowingly or recklessly engaging in a commercial practice.
The offences including trying to extract fees and commission payments from buyers when no fees or commissions were due, failing to inform a buyer that VAT would be due on a fee and charging a ‘buying fee’ when operating a ‘zero fee’ scheme for vendors.
Conflict of interest
But one of the most serious offences involved the company allowing a house to be valued by a member of staff who hoped to buy it themselves.
Eleven similar offences brought against the company’s director Matthew Illsey were dropped before the case came to court.
After admitting the offences, Poole Magistrates Court fined Meridian Estate Agents £5,500, ordered it to pay compensation of £24,364, costs of £10,000 as well as a £170 victim surcharge.
“Buying and selling a house is one of the largest financial decisions made by consumers and estate agents have a duty in law to provide full and accurate information,” says Councillor Lewis Alison of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council told local media.