My estate agent won’t hand over the booking deposit from my house sale

Property Clinic: Lodge a complaint with the PSRA or seek legal advice

Booking deposits are lodged to the agent’s client account and must at all times be available as these are client’s monies and do not belong to the agent. Photograph: Getty Images

Booking deposits are lodged to the agent’s client account and must at all times be available as these are client’s monies and do not belong to the agent. Photograph: Getty Images

 

I’m hoping you can advise me. I sold my property through an estate agent recently. Despite the various lockdowns, from sale agreed to closing took about five months. I noted that my estate agent took a large booking deposit from the buyers. However, I have had nothing but pain and frustration trying to recoup the monies the estate agent owes to me. He has paid me some but not the full amount very late in the day, over four weeks after the sale closed. What can I do in this situation to ensure I get full payment as soon as possible?

Roger Berkeley writes: This type of appalling behaviour by your agent is unacceptable. Firstly, you need to write to your agent, informing them that you expect a response within 10 days. If his response is unsatisfactory, which appears to be the case, you should write to the Property Services Regulatory Authority (PSRA) quoting his licence number and the details of the case. The PSRA will then investigate the matter for you.

If, in the unlikely event the agent is unlicensed you will have no recourse to the PSRA but you can engage your solicitor to correspond with the agent. If your agent is a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) or another professional body, you should copy them in on the correspondence.

It is very important when selling your property to engage a licensed agent who is a member of a professional body so that the agent in question can be held accountable for such actions or inactions. Periodic audits are carried out to ensure the agent is complying with proper conduct. Also, you will be covered under a compensation fund, should you not recoup the monies owed to you.

When you engaged your agent you would have signed the mandatory PSRA terms of engagement contract, where paragraph 9.4 outlines the invoicing arrangements. All deposits are lodged to the agent’s client account at the outset and must at all times be available as these are client’s monies and do not belong to the agent.

As soon as written confirmation is received from the vendor’s solicitor advising that the sale has completed, the agent is obliged to refund the balance of funds due to the client after deduction of agreed fees and costs, promptly, and normally through the vendor’s solicitor within a reasonable time frame. This ideally should take place within 24 to 48 hours of the sale’s completion. It should certainly not take any longer than a week to 10 days from the date of completion of the sale.

Roger Berkeley is a chartered residential surveyor, registered valuer and member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, scsi.ie

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