Estate agents failing to sign code of conduct


SOME 40 per cent of estate agents and auctioneers have not signed up to a voluntary code of conduct established three years ago.

A Fianna Fáil councillor in the midlands and a former senator of the party in Mayo, as well as several leading estate agents, are among those who still have not signed up with the National Property Services Regulatory Authority.

The code provides for complaints from the public to be investigated by a disciplinary board. While voluntary at present, it will become statutory when legislation formally setting up the authority is passed.

When contacted by The Irish Times, Barry Cowen, a Fianna Fáil councillor in Clara, Co Offaly, and the principal of DNG Cowen, expressed surprise that he was not listed as having agreed to the code.

He said he had made a conscious decision to sign up and did not understand why he was not listed as having done so.

Mr Cowen, a brother of the Taoiseach, has just started a new job at Mullingar greyhound track but is keeping on his auctioneering business.

The manager in the office of Frank Chambers, an auctioneer in Newport, Co Mayo, and a former Fianna Fáil councillor and senator, said she believed they had never been asked to sign up to the code but offered to carry out further checks.

While most of the large firms involved in selling residential and commercial property have signed up to the code, a number of leading firms, including Lisney and Savills, are not listed has having done so.

Roland O’Connell, a director of Savills Ireland, said his firm fully supported the principles of the code but had been unaware that it was active in advance of legislation being passed.

The Property Services (Regulation) Bill 2009, which provides for a statutory register and code of conduct for the profession, passed second stage in the Dáil last week. Until it is enacted, the public has no way of telling whether an estate agent is licensed.

The authority has received more than 320 complaints in three years. Of 12 complaints made this year against alleged unlicensed operators, two sent in their licence, two more applied for one and eight cases are ongoing.

The penalty for failure to hold a licence is €630.