Code Of Conduct For Real Estate Services

CODE OF CONDUCT: REAL ESTATE SERVICES
The Office of Fair Trading is committed to ensuring that the market works well for
consumers and that all businesses engaged in real estate services are prevented from
causing significant harm to consumer interests.
This Code is designed to enhance the reputation of real estate service providers and
protect consumers against misrepresentation and malpractice in this sector.
This Code has been issued in accordance with the provisions of Section 91(3) of the Fair
Trading Act and is best practice guidance to estate agents who are required to hold a class
B (xi) licence in accordance with the provisions of the Fair Trading Act.

1. Your service
a) You should provide a service to landlords, tenants, purchasers and vendors
consistent with fairness, integrity and best practice;
b) You should not seek business by methods that are oppressive or involve
dishonesty, deceit or misrepresentation;
c) You may use and display material promoting this Code as provided by the
Office of Fair Trading from time to time;
d) You should have available, free of charge, copies of this Code to give to clients
on request at your offices;
e) You should ensure that all your staff are fully conversant with all aspects of this
Code and their legal responsibilities, and observe the Code and their legal
responsibilities in all their dealings with your clients; and
f) You should treat all parties involved in transactions fairly and with courtesy;and
g) All references in this code to communications in “writing” shall include e-mail.

2. Conflicts of Interest
a) You should avoid any conflict of interest. You should disclose at the earliest
opportunity in writing to your client or any relevant third party any existing or
potential conflict of interest.
b) If you are dealing with a property that is owned by you, an employee or an
associate or in which you, an associate or an employee has an interest, you
should disclose this interest to all parties in writing, before negotiations begin.

3. Instructions, Terms of Business, Fees and Charges
a) Your terms of business should be consistent with this Code and be written in
plain and intelligible language. Your terms of business should also state the
duration of your instruction and how it may be terminated by either party.
b) You should be clear and transparent with fees and avoid hidden costs.
c) All fees and additional costs should be included in your terms of business. They
should be fully explained and clearly and unambiguously stated in writing.
d) Where your commission fee is a percentage you should clearly state whether
your fee will vary depending on whether the agreed price is higher or lower
than the asking price.
e) Where you charge a fixed fee you should state the actual amount payable and
ensure that your client understands that the fee will not vary, irrespective of
the final sale price or rent.
f) You should not instruct other agencies to assist you in dealing with any
property without your client’s written permission. If your client gives you
permission, as the instructing agent, you may be held liable for the actions of
the sub-instructed agent.
g) You should give your client written confirmation of your acceptance of their
instructions and written details of your terms of business.
h) You should take reasonable steps to satisfy yourself that the vendor is entitled
to instruct you on behalf of all co-vendors.

4. Deposits
a) You should presume that all deposits made by a consumer are to be held on a
‘subject to contract’ basis unless the clients expressly agree otherwise in
writing amongst themselves and provide you with a copy of their agreement.
Subject to any such express agreement between the parties, if for any reason,
the parties do not proceed to exchange contracts in relation to a sale,
purchase, lease or other or enter into a rental or tenancy agreement (as the
case may be), the deposit should be returned forthwith to the payee in full
without deduction or set-off.
b) A deposit is entrusted to you for safekeeping as stakeholder and should not be
renamed or disguised as an introducer’s fee or other brokerage fee.

5. Client accounts
a) It is a legal requirement under section 97 of the Fair Trading Act to hold all
deposits from clients and client monies in a separate client account.
b) Such client account or accounts should be reconciled regularly and at least
monthly to your bank statements and clearly identify which client holds which
deposit with you. Monies not reconciled must be investigated in a timely
manner and efforts made to return money to clients where it is no longer
necessary to hold a deposit.
c) The monies contained in such client account(s) must be segregated from your
office account and held to the order of the particular client.
d) The account designated as a client account, should contain the word ‘client’ in
the account name with the bank or building society.

6. Market Values
a) When you advise a client or prospective client as to the rental or sale value of
their property, your advice should be given in good faith. Your advice should
also reflect information about the relevant property and current market
conditions. Your advice should also, where possible, be supported by
comparable evidence.
b) You should never deliberately misrepresent the market value of a property.

7. Viewings and representations
a) You should take instructions from your clients as to their requirements
regarding viewings, specifically whether or not they should be conducted by
you.
b) You should record any viewings that have been arranged for the property and
communicate feedback from those viewings to your client within agreed
timescales.
c) When you know the property has been marketed by another agent you should
establish if your client has previously viewed the property through that or any
other agent.
d) Where possible, you should obtain an inventory before carrying out viewings,
so that both parties are clear from the outset on what is included in the price
or rent (as the case may be).

8. Access to the Property
a) Unless otherwise instructed by your client, if you hold the keys to the property
you should be present at any viewings of the property. You should not allow a
prospective purchaser or tenant (as the case may be) to visit the property
without your supervision.
b) If you are arranging for someone to view a property that is not vacant, you
should agree the arrangements with the occupier (including any tenants)
beforehand with 24 hours’ notice, where possible.
c) You should make sure that all the keys you have are kept secure.
d) You should maintain records of when you issue keys and to whom, and when
they are returned. These records should be kept secure and separate from the
actual keys. You should only give keys to people providing you with
satisfactory identification. The keys and their key rings should not identify the
property address.
e) If access to a property is required by a person on behalf of the purchaser or
tenant (e.g. a surveyor, builder or tradesman) and you hold the key but are
not able to accompany that person, written permission should be obtained
from the vendor or landlord before you hand over the key.
f) You should exercise reasonable diligence to ensure that, after any visit by you,
the relevant property is left as secure as you found it.

9. Offers
a) You should notify your client as soon as reasonably possible of all offers that
you receive at any time up until the point at which contracts have been
exchanged or a rental agreement entered into, unless the offer is an amount or
type which your client has specifically instructed you, in writing, not to inform
him of.
b) You should notify your client of each offer or response to an offer that you
receive in writing within two working days of receipt.
c) Prior to the acceptance of any offer, you should take reasonable steps to
ascertain the availability of the purchaser’s funds and inform the vendor
accordingly. Such information will include whether the prospective purchaser is
relying on the sale of another property to use towards the relevant purchase
and whether they require a mortgage or are cash purchasers.

10. Advertising
a) When an offer has been accepted subject to contract you should seek your
client’s instructions as to whether the property should be withdrawn from the
market, or continue to be marketed. In the latter case, you should notify the
prospective buyer or tenant in writing. The prospective buyer or tenant should
also be informed in writing should your client later decide to put the property
back on the market.
b) You should not advertise any property without permission from the owner.
c) All your adverts should be legal, decent, honest and truthful. Advertised
properties should be available at the time of advertising.
d) Your website should be updated at least weekly.

11. Anti-Money Laundering Requirements
You should not market the property without the consent of the owner and without
obtaining adequate proof of identification of the owner in accordance with the
Crime (Money Laundering and Proceeds) Act 2007, the Drug Trafficking Act 1995
and the Terrorism Act 2005.

12. Involvement between Offer and Exchange of Contracts
a) After acceptance of the offer by the vendor, and until exchange of contracts
you should not influence the legal process or the mortgage lending process.
Your obligations to the vendor are:
i) to monitor progress;
ii) to assist where possible, if asked; and
iii) to report information deemed helpful to bringing the transaction to fruition.
b) If your client becomes involved in a contract race, they should be told promptly
of the situation and given such information which comes to your attention as is
consistent with your duty to the other parties.

13. Exchange and Completion
After exchange of contracts you should not give the purchaser the keys to the
property without the written permission from the vendor or landlord (as the case
may be) or their lawyer.
Keys to the property should not be given to the purchaser on completion without
the specific permission of the vendor or the vendor’s legal representative.

14. Confidentiality
a) You should treat all transactions and communications with your clients as
confidential.
b) You should deal with all correspondence with your clients as promptly as
possible and, in any event, within the following time limits:
i) An acknowledgement shall be sent not later than 14 days from the date of
receipt of correspondence; and
ii) A detailed reply, or a reply containing a detailed explanation for any delay,
shall be sent not later than 28 days from the date of receipt of
correspondence.

15. Complaints handling and the Office of Fair Trading’s Role
a) You should maintain and operate a complaints procedure. Such procedures
should be in writing and explain how to make a complaint against your
business.
b) All verbal and written complaints should be recorded by you. All written
complaints should be acknowledged in writing within 14 calendar days of
receipt and investigation promptly undertaken. A senior member of staff not
directly involved in the transaction should deal with the complaint.
c) If the complainant remains dissatisfied, they should be told how their
complaint may be pursued further within your business. Following the
conclusion of your investigation, a written statement of your final view, and
including any offer made (where relevant), should be sent to the complainant.
This letter should also tell the complainant how the matter can be referred to
the Office of Fair Trading.
d) An investigation may be made by the Office of Fair Trading against you.. If not
resolved, the Office of Fair Trading can refer to the matter to the Office of Fair
Trading Commission which may, in its discretion issue an enforcement order
against your business. This order may, amongst other remedies, order you to
pay the complainant the amount of any such award within a specified period
for payment as ordered by the Commission.

Bray Properties Customer Complaints Procedure
If you have a complaint about our organisation we want to hear about it and we will do our best to put it right.
Our Customer Complaints Procedure has the following goals:
 
  • To deal with complaints fairly, efficiently and effectively;
  • To ensure that all complaints are handled in a consistent manner throughout;
  • To increase customer satisfaction;
  • To use complaints constructively in the planning and improvement of all services.
How to complain
Bray Properties would like to resolve any complaint as soon as possible and many complaints can be resolved informally.

In the first instance contact Bray Properties, and, if you feel able to, speak to the member of staff who is working with you, who will try to sort the matter out.

If you make contact in person or by phone, make a note of the name of the person you speak to. If a solution is offered at this point, make a note of this as well.

If you are not satisfied or do not wish for an informal solution, you may pursue a formal complaint. Write down your complaint, including all the details you consider pertinent and send it to:

Managing Director
Bray Properties Limited
P.O. Box 396
Gibraltar

Or email it to: Justin@brayproperties.com

What Happens Next?
You will receive acknowledgement of your complaint within 14 working days of receipt and a response to your complaint with the proposed explanation and or resolution within 28 working days of its receipt.

In all cases, a complaint will be given full and fair consideration and will be investigated by a senior member of staff who is not directly involved with the transaction.

Should you remain dissatisfied after further liaison with the senior member of staff appointed to investigate the complaint, you may refer it to:

Office of Fair Trading
Suite 975
Europort
Gibraltar
GX11 1AA

Tel:  (00350) 200 71700

Email:   oft@gibraltar.gov.gi