The practice of ‘portal juggling’, where listings are deliberately removed and relisted to bump them to the top of the list of new properties, has been banned in the UK.
After months of submissions, a warning was issued from industry regulator the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team that estate agents who deliberately mislead potential home buyers portal juggling could be prosecuted and banned from the industry.
NTSEAT team leader, James Munro said in a statement: “If an estate agent has relisted a property and described it as ‘new on the market’ (or implying it as such), or using re-listings as a mechanism for falsely inflating sales statistics, this would constitute an offence under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. False representations made by an estate agent could also fall under the scope of the Fraud Act 2008.
“It is clear that portal juggling is a concern to many in the estate agency industry and we are today warning those estate agents involved in portal juggling that they may be breaking the law, which could lead to enforcement action from local Trading Standards authorities and prosecution.”
“Estate agents and individual employees involved in this practice also face being issued with warning or prohibition orders if they have used misleading statements or made false representations about properties they are trying to sell.
Independent agents and their supporters have been adamant that the market has been skewed by portal juggling, which can also trigger a new property alert to potential buyers, and hailed the ruling of the practice as a breach of tradition regulations a major victory.
But at least one agent at the centre of the campaign to expose and stop portal juggling, Chris Wood of PDQ in Cornwall, has written to the NTSEAT to ask if it will take any action against industry giants Rightmove and Zoopla.
“If any cases are now being brought against Rightmove and Zoopla for permitting such activities and, against those agents ... who have been so flagrantly breaching the law and deceiving consumers?”