Code of conduct
Our goal is to adhere to the provisions set out in the code of conduct accepted by the UK National Trading Standards (Estate Agency team).
A General Provisions
B Duty of Care and Conflict of Interest
C Advertising for New Business
D Market Appraisal
E Instructions, Terms of Business, Commission and Termination
F Marketing and Advertising
G Publishing information about a property
H Viewing and Access to Premises
K Financial Evaluation
M Between Acceptance and signing of Contracts
P In-house Complaints Handling
Q Referral to the legal process
R Glossary of terms
S Reflecting Croatian regulations
A. General Provisions
- This Code applies to estate agency and/or property finding services provided by a person or organisation who has agreed or is required to comply with it for the marketing of residential property.
- You must comply with this Code of Practice. You must comply with all laws relating to a residential estate agency.
- You should provide a service to both buyers and sellers consistent with fairness, integrity and best practice; and you should not seek business by methods that are oppressive or involve dishonesty, deceit or misrepresentation. You must avoid any course of action that
can be construed as aggressive behaviour or harassment.
- You must treat consumers equally regardless of their race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender reassignment status, disability or nationality. Unlawful discrimination includes giving less favourable treatment because someone is perceived to have one of these personal characteristics or because they are associated with a person with such a characteristic.
- You should take special care when dealing with consumers who might be disadvantaged because of their age, infirmity, lack of knowledge, lack of linguistic ability, economic circumstances or bereavement.
- You must not release or misuse confidential information given by your client during the process of selling or buying a property without your client’s permission unless legally required to do so.
- You must keep clear and full written records of all transactions for a period of 2 years and produce them when required.
- You must have available, free of charge, copies of this Code of Practice to give to consumers on request.
B. Duty of Care and Conflict of Interest.
- You must treat all those involved in the proposed sale or purchase including sellers, potential sellers, buyers and potential buyers fairly and with courtesy.
- You must avoid any conflict of interest. You must disclose at the earliest opportunity in writing to your client or any relevant third party any existing conflict of interest, or any circumstances which might give rise to a conflict of interest.
- If you intend to offer potential buyers surveying, financial, investment, insurance, conveyancing or other services or those of an associate or connected person, you must advise your clients either separately in writing or within your Terms of Business.
- Customer requirements are key and this applies to the potential viewer/buyer as well as the seller. You should complete a consumer fact find to ensure that any specific requirements of the seller or potential buyer may be taken into consideration.
- You must tell the seller as soon as reasonably possible after you find out that a prospective buyer, who has made an offer, has applied to use your surveying, financial, investment, insurance, conveyancing or other services or those of an associate or connected person in connection with that purchase.
- If your firm is instructed to sell a property and you, an employee or an associate (or an associate of the employee of your firm) is intending to buy it you must, before negotiations begin, give all the relevant facts, in writing, to the seller; and as soon as possible to his legal representative.
- If you or an employee or an associate is intending to buy a property which your firm is instructed to sell, that person must take no further direct part in the sale of that property on behalf of your business.
- If you are selling a property that is owned by you, an employee or an associate you must, before negotiations begin, immediately make this
C. Advertising for New Business (Canvassing).
- You must not use unfair methods when seeking new properties for sale by unsolicited approaches. Any canvassing material must be truthful and must fully explain who the message is from, its purposes and how the seller’s interest can be followed up.
- If as a result of an unsolicited approach a seller is interested in using your services, you must draw to their attention and explain before they are committed to another contract the potential of paying fees to more than one agent where another agent has been
previously instructed to sell their property.
- You must act promptly if a seller or property owner asks you to stop canvassing them.
D. Market Appraisal.
- When you give advice to someone selling their property, any figure you advise, either as a recommended asking price or as a possible selling price must be given in good faith and must reflect available information about the property and current market conditions and must be supported by comparable evidence. You must never deliberately misrepresent the market value of a property.
- Any evidence relating to comparables of similar properties in a similar location must be retained on file for future reference.
- You must keep your marketing strategy under regular review with your client.
E. Instructions, Terms of Business, Commission and Termination.
- You should inform your client that you subscribe to this Code of Practice.
- You must not directly or indirectly harass any person in order to gain instructions, nor must you repeatedly try to gain instructions in a way likely to cause offence.
- You must not instruct other agencies to assist you in selling a property without the seller’s permission. If the seller gives permission, as the instructing agent, you are liable at law for the actions of the sub-instructed agent and will be held responsible for any failures to comply with this Code of Practice by that sub-instructed agent.
- Notwithstanding E3 above if you are instructed as a sub-agent or share listings via a website, you must continue to act in accordance with all relevant provisions of this Code of Practice.
- You must give your client written confirmation of his instruction for you to act in the buying or selling of property on his behalf. You must by law give the client written details of your Terms of Business including your fees and charges before he is committed or has any liability towards you.
- Your Terms of Business and your contract must be consistent with the provisions of this Code of Practice.
- Your Terms of Business should be written in plain and intelligible language.
- All fees and additional costs must be included in your Terms of Business. They must be fully explained, clearly and unambiguously stated before the seller is committed to the contract.
- Where the fee is a percentage you should clearly state whether VAT is chargeable and must express it as an actual amount plus VAT. The example amount should be based on the asking price. However, you must make it clear that, should the selling price be higher or lower than
the asking price, your commission fee will be correspondingly higher or lower.
- Where you charge a fixed fee you should state the actual amount payable including VAT in the contract and ensure that the seller understands that the fee will not vary whatever the sale price.
- Except for any previously agreed additional costs, commission fees will become due on the day of payment.
- If you intend to charge the client a fee or recover costs for terminating the instruction you must make this clear and specify the amount of the fee and additional costs and their purpose.
- On receipt of the seller’s instruction (includes executor, trustee, person holding power of attorney), or on your own decision, to terminate your instruction, you must promptly give confirmation that you are no longer acting for him, confirm the actual date of termination, and give details of any fees or additional costs the client owes you.
- Your contract must allow for the required notice of termination to be given before the end of the term, such that termination by the client can occur at the expiry of the minimum term.
- You must refer clients to your Terms of Business before they make a commitment to use your services.
- You should take reasonable steps to satisfy yourself that the seller is entitled to instruct you and to sign on behalf of all co-sellers.
- Any subsequent changes to the Terms of Business must be mutually agreed by you and your client and promptly confirmed in writing.
F. Marketing and Advertising.
- You must not put any property on the market for sale without permission from the seller and without obtaining adequate proof of identification of the seller in accordance with money laundering regulations 2007.
- You must not erect any form of estate agency board at a property unless you have been instructed to market that property.
- You can only erect an estate agency board with the specific permission of the client.
- Any board you do erect must be appropriate for the occasion.
- When you put up a board you must comply with the local planning authority.
- If your board relates to part of a building in multiple occupation, it should indicate the part of the building to which it relates.
- You must not replace another agent’s board with your own, hide it or remove it from a property, without the client’s permission or without notifying the other agent.
- You must comply with local legislation in relation to erecting your boards.
G. Published Material and Information about a property.
- You must comply with the local Consumer Protection and Unfair Trading Regulations. These require you to disclose any information of which you are aware or should be aware of in relation to the property in a clear, intelligible and timely fashion and to take all reasonable steps that
all statements that you make about a property, whether oral, pictorial or written, are accurate and are not misleading. All material information (*) must be disclosed and there must be no material omissions which may impact on the average consumer’s transactional decision and where information is given to potential buyers or their representatives, it must be accurate and not misleading.
- The written details of a property (sales particulars) must be agreed with the seller to confirm that the details are accurate.
- You will be liable if you include anything in the sales particulars which you have reason to doubt is correct.
- All advertisements must be legal, decent, honest and truthful.
H. Viewing and Access to Premises
- You must take instructions from the seller as to his requirements regarding viewings, specifically whether or not they should be conducted by you.
- You must record any viewings that have been arranged for that property, feedback from those viewings should be passed to the seller within a timescale agreed with your client.
- Before arranging any viewing, you must tell the viewer if you are aware of an offer that has already been accepted subject to contract.
- When you know the property has been marketed by another agent you should establish if your viewer has previously viewed the property through that or any other agent.
- Unless otherwise instructed by the seller, if you hold the keys to a property you must accompany any viewings of that property. If you are arranging for someone to view an occupied property, you must agree the arrangements with the occupier (including any
tenants) beforehand, wherever possible.
- You must make sure that all the keys you have are coded and kept secure. You must maintain records of when you issue keys and to whom, and when they are returned. These records must be kept secure and separate from the actual keys. You must only give keys to people providing you with satisfactory identification.
- If access to a property is required by a person on behalf of the buyer (e.g. a surveyor, builder, tradesman etc) and you hold the key but are not able to accompany that person, this must be made clear to the seller beforehand and his express permission obtained before you hand over the key.
- You must exercise reasonable diligence to ensure that, after any visit by you, a property is left secure.
- By law, you must tell sellers as soon as is reasonably possible about all offers that you receive at any time until contracts have been exchanged unless the offer is an amount or type which the seller has specifically instructed you not to pass on. You must confirm each offer in writing to the seller, and to the buyer who made it, within 2 working days.
- You must keep a written or electronic contemporaneous record of all offers you receive including the date and time of such offers and the seller’s response.
- You cannot make it a condition of passing on offers to the seller that the person wanting to buy the property must use services offered by you or another party. You must not discriminate, or threaten to discriminate, against a prospective buyer of the seller’s property because that person declines to accept that you will (directly or indirectly) provide related services to them. Discrimination includes but is not limited to the following:
• Telling the seller of an offer less quickly than other offers you have received.
• Misrepresenting the nature of the offer or that of rival offers.
• Giving details of properties for sale first to those who have indicated they are prepared to let you provide services to them.
• Failing to tell the seller of an offer to buy the property.
- When an offer has been accepted subject to contract you must consult and take the seller’s instructions as to whether the property
should be withdrawn from the market, or continue to be marketed. In the latter case, you must so advise the prospective buyer. The prospective buyer must also be informed should the seller later decide to put the property back on the market. You remain under the legal obligation to pass on offers, as defined in (J3) above.
- You should keep all prospective buyers who have recently made offers through you, and which have not already been rejected, informed of
the existence of other offers submitted to the seller.
- You must be fair and not misleading when disclosing the amount of any offers made to other prospective buyers. Before disclosing the amount of an offer, you must advise the seller of such intention and get his agreement and you must warn all prospective buyers who make offers that it is your practice to do so. If you do disclose any offer to one prospective buyer, then all offers must be immediately disclosed to all prospective buyers
with a current interest in negotiations for the property.
- After an offer has been accepted, you must promptly tell that prospective buyer if the seller accepts another offer.
- By law you must not misrepresent or invent the existence, or any details, of any other offer made or the status of any other person who has made an offer. If you know that the seller has instructed a legal representative to send a contract to an alternative buyer, you must then tell your prospective buyer.
- If you have received a Note of Interest (either orally or in writing) from someone intending to make an offer, you must immediately tell the seller about the Note of Interest and confirm the details.
- You must do everything reasonably possible to tell the person intending to make an offer about any formal closing date for offers.
K. Financial Evaluation.
- At the time that an offer has been made and is being considered by the seller, you must take reasonable steps to find out from the prospective buyer the source and availability of his funds for buying the property and pass this information to the seller. Such information will include whether the prospective buyer needs to sell a property, requires a mortgage, claims to be a cash buyer or any combination of these.
- You must put all offers to the seller even if the prospective buyer has not been financially qualified at that stage.
- These reasonable steps must continue after acceptance of the offer until exchange of contracts and must include regular monitoring of
the prospective buyer’s progress in achieving the funds required, and reporting such progress to the seller.
- You must not hold a deposit, or any other money belonging to a seller or buyer client.
M. Between acceptance and exchange of property and payment.
- After acceptance of the offer by the seller, and until exchange of property/payment you must have no direct influence on such matters as the conveyancing process or the mortgage lending process. Your obligations to the seller are to monitor progress, to assist where possible and to report information deemed helpful to bringing the transaction to fruition. You must keep written or electronic records of such activity.
- If a buyer becomes involved in a contract race, he should be told promptly of the situation and given such information which comes to your attention as is consistent with your duty to the seller and the other buyer(s).
N. Exchange and Completion.
- After the signing of the contracts, only the legal representative of the seller will give the buyer the keys to the property.
- At completion, you should offer to assist with the handover of keys during your office working hours and maintain a record of what has been agreed.
P. In-house Complaints Handling.
- You must maintain and operate an in-house complaints procedure. Such procedures must be in writing to explain how to complain to your business and be readily available in each office or on line for consumers and legal representatives.
- All verbal and written complaints must be recorded by you at the first reasonable opportunity from when they are made.
- You must agree to deal with any properly appointed representative of a Complainant.
- All written complaints must be acknowledged in writing within 3 working days and a proper investigation promptly undertaken. A formal written outcome of your investigation must be sent to the Complainant within 15 working days. A senior member of staff not directly involved in the transaction should deal with the complaint where possible.
- If the Complainant remains dissatisfied, he must be told how he can further pursue his complaint within your business. This should provide the opportunity for a speedy, separate and detached review of the complaint by staff not directly involved in the transaction. Such
a review must be sent to the Complainant within 15 working days.
- Following the conclusion of your investigation, a written statement of your final view, and including any offer made, must be sent to the Complainant. This letter must also tell the Complainant how the matter can be referred to the legal process.
- You must not imply that payment of any outstanding commission fee or additional costs is a pre-condition of a review by a lawyer.
Q. Referrals to the legal process.
- You must co-operate with any investigations by a lawyer being conducted in accordance with his Terms of Reference.
R. Glossary of Terms.
In this Code, the following interpretations and definitions apply:
Here are some illustrative examples of aggressive behaviour or practices. It is not an exhaustive list. In each case, the test is whether the average consumer’s freedom of choice or conduct is (or would be likely to be) impaired and, as a result, they take (or would be likely to take) a different transactional decision. When you gain new clients and instructions, when you market property, when you negotiate and make sales.
(R1a) Imposing onerous or disproportionate requirements which prevent a client from exercising rights to terminate an agreement or switch to another property sales business.
(R1b) Refusing to allow a consumer to cancel their contract with you, where a cancellation period applies and has not expired.
(R1c) Pressurising a potential buyer to use associated services, for example to take out a mortgage through the in-house mortgage advisor or to use a particular firm of solicitors or licensed conveyancers.
(R1d) Pressurising (for example by persistent and/or aggressive telephone calls) the buyer to act quickly to put in an offer, raise their price, skip the survey, finalise the sale and/or exchange contracts.
(R1e) In order to make commission quickly, pressurising a seller client to accept an offer at a lower price than is reasonable for their property, for example by telling them that they cannot get a better offer.
(R1f) Pursuing commission to which you are not entitled.
(R1g) Intimidating, pressurising or coercing consumers into dropping complaints against your business, for example by the use of threatening or abusive when you deal with complaints.
(R2a) Includes a brother, sister, husband, wife, civil partner, aunt, uncle, nephew, niece, parents, grandparents, children and grandchildren. The definition also includes business associates.
(R3) Average Consumer.
(R3a) The ‘average consumer’ is someone who is reasonably well informed and reasonably observant and circumspect. For example, an average consumer
would pay some attention to documentation given to them, but not necessarily to the small print unless key points in it are brought to their attention. An average consumer would check out publicly available facts for themselves where this is straightforward to do, although what checks they actually make will be influenced by the information that you have given them.
(R3b) This code does however provide for where a commercial practice is targeted at a particular group of consumers. In these cases, the ‘average consumer’ will refer to the average member of that group, not the average consumer generally. This will be relevant to you if you are targeting your commercial practice at a particular group of consumers.
(R4) Cash Buyer.
(R4a) A ‘cash buyer’ can only be described as such if he has realisable cash assets, that is: he has sufficientavailable cash or other investments, which can be realised in a reasonable time, that is, it will be available by the estimated or proposed exchange of contracts and completion dates or
he has actually sold a property, that he has exchanged contracts and is expected to achieve completion on his sale before exchange on his purchase and he does not require a mortgage to make up any difference in the purchase price of the new property.
A person who has instructed you to sell for a fee or buy for a fee, a property on his or her behalf. Where appropriate, this definition includes a client’s properly appointed representative.
Customer refers to an actual or potential seller or buyer.
Someone who is an actual or potential seller or buyer of residential property making a complaint against you. Where appropriate, this definition
includes a Complainant’s properly appointed representative.
(R8)Property finding or Estate Agency Services.
Things done by any person in the course of a business (including a business in which he is employed) pursuant to instructions received from a Consumer
(the “client”) who wishes to sell or buy any residential property.
(R8a) For the purpose of, or with a view to, effecting the introduction to the client of a third person who wishes to buy or, as the case may be, sell such residential property; and
(R8b) after such an introduction has been effected in the course of that business, for the purpose of securing the sale or, as the case may be, the purchase of that property.
Harassment is defined as unwanted conduct related to disability, sex, gender reassignment or race and which has the purpose or effect of violating someone’s dignity, creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the service user. Harassment also includes sexual harassment and less favourable treatment of a service user because they submit or reject sexual harassment, or to harassment related to sex
or gender reassignment. Harassment because of someone’s sexual orientation or religion would amount to unlawful direct discrimination and is also prohibited under law.
(R10) Material Information.
In the most straightforward sales, the material information that you should give to potential buyers may be quite basic. Little more than the asking price, location, number and approximate size of rooms, and whether the property has 'clean' documentation and registration. However, depending on the circumstances of each sale, material facts could include the length of the lease, the level of charges payable under a lease, uncertainties known about
registration, major structural defects, lack of connection to mains services, etc. At the outset of the marketing process, you are not expected to research issues that are outside your line of business, for example, where your business is marketing property and the issues are ones that a surveyor or conveyancer would investigate. However, should you become aware of such information later on, you cannot ignore or suppress it. If the information is material, you will need to disclose it.
The act of and commitment by a property finding service to abide by all provisions of this Code of Practice.
(R12) Property or Residential Property.
Means property (land and/or buildings) used, last used, or to be used for residential purposes.
Means all written correspondence, file notes, contracts and agreements in hard copy or electronic communications including emails or faxes.
(R14) Transactional Decision.
(R14a)Informed decisions made by consumers, which include a decision to find out more about your services, or to rule out using the services of
one of your competitors.
(R14b)A client’s decision whether and on what terms to sign or renew an agreement with you, or their decision to end an agreement.
(R14c) A seller’s decision whether to put their property up for sale or take it off the market, to accept or turn down an offer, or to exchange on the sale or not.
(R14d) A buyer’s decision whether to view an advertised property, or whether and on what terms to make an offer on a property, instruct a solicitor or licensed conveyancer, commission a survey, apply for a mortgage, or buy the property.
(R15) Written, in Writing.
Includes typed or hand-written letters, records or notes, emails, letters via electronic means and faxes.
Applies to all who commit to be bound by this Code.
S. Special conditions arising from legal and other causes due to requirements of operating in the Republic of Croatia.
- The staff and entity operating in the name of ruralpropertycroatia.com (Referred to hereafter as "RPC") hereby state our commitment to abide by the above code of conduct.
- RPC does not charge sellers for its services and does not therefore require to make any contract, implied or otherwise, with sellers. However, in pursuit of good practice, RPC commits to follow the code of conduct as specified above with regard to its obligations to sellers.
- The above general provisions have been amended from that used in the United Kingdom in a number of cases, these are due to different regulations in force in Croatia. These include different methodology of transferring property, the absence of title deeds, the absence of the process known as 'exchange of contracts' and 'completion'.