The estate agent wants me to sign a letter of engagement

October 2013

Question

The estate agent I have appointed to sell my house, wants me to sign a ‘Letter of Engagement’. She says it is illegal for her to do anything if I do not sign; is this correct?

Answer

Yes, this is correct. Under the Property Services (Regulation) Act, which came into law in 2011 and led to the establishment of the Property Services Regulatory Authority(PSRA), all property services providers (ie auctioneers/estate agents, letting agents and property management agents) must have a signed Letter of Engagement in place in order to provide professional services. Therefore, it is illegal for a property service provider (PSP) to begin marketing a property without having a signed Letter of Engagement in advance.

Under the law, a PSP must issue a Letter of Engagement to a client within seven days of agreeing or beginning to provide a property service, whichever is the earlier. The client must return the Letter of Engagement, duly signed, within seven working days.

If a PSP does not receive a signed Letter of Engagement returned from the client, they must cease to provide or shall not start to provide the property service. In addition, if the signed Letter of Engagement is not returned by the client within seven working days, the letter will be invalid.

This requirement has been introduced to protect the public and to ensure that there is clarity between the PSP and the client in terms of the service to be provided in order to improve transparency and reduce the likelihood of misunderstandings or disputes occurring.

There are 11 mandatory Letters of Engagement prescribed by the PSRA that set out the terms of service in respect of all types of agency (including sale by auction), letting apartments and property management apartments. Your PSP will advise you which letter is appropriate for the service they are providing.

All of the Letters of Engagement are standard and are available to view on the PSRA website, www.psr.ie. A consumer guide to letters of engagement for consumers is available from the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (MediKids) website: medi-kids.info

Simon Stokes is Chair of the Residential Property Professional Group of the MediKids.