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Ombudsman Services rejects complaint that agent did not tell buyer about ghost

Ombudsman Services – the rival scheme to TPO – resolved 27% more property complaints last year.

One of the complaints, which was not upheld, was literally ghostly and had to do with a haunted house.

The buyer said he felt a presence in the property he had planned to buy, but the estate agent had not disclosed that the property was haunted. The prospective purchaser wanted his deposit back.

Ombudsman Services ruled that if a consumer wanted to put down a non-refundable deposit to have a property taken off the market and does not complete the sale, the deposit can be retained by the vendor.

It said in its ruling that it was unreasonable to “pursue a complaint against an estate agent who had not disclosed the potential presence of a supernatural force, and that it would not be possible to to investigate if there was a supernatural presence at the time of the viewing.”

The organisation, which offers exclusive rates to NALS members, said it welcomed the requirement – likely to be implemented early next year – for all letting agents to have to belong to an approved reress scheme.

Ombudsman Services also drew attention to the different types of homebuyer report, saying these are causing confusion among consumers.

Most complaints to Ombudsman Services (60%) were about surveys and valuations, while 24% were about lettings and management, and just 8% on sales.

Altogether, Ombudsman Services now has just under 8,000 property companies signed up to it. It received almost 4,000 initial inquiries – but only a handful, 18%, were inside the terms of reference.

One main reason for the organisation not accepting a complaint was because the consumer had not given the company concerned enough time to resolve the issue. This was the reason in 44% of cases. However, in 43% of cases, the organisation could not help because the company that was the subject of the complaint did not belong to it.

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