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Ash
Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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Having signed a 20 week contract electronically for the sale

Resolved Question:

Having signed a 20 week contract electronically for the sale of my house and only being involve for 5 of those weeks do they have the right to hold me into that contact for the remainder as I have decided to remarket it with another estate agent. I am warned that should it sell before the allotted time is up I could end up paying 2 lots of commission. I have checked the law on Unfair Terms In Contracts and Distant Selling Regulations but I am no lawyer. I am contacting you from Leics and the Estate Agent is in Manchester. There doesn't appear to be cancellation rights so does this mean the contract is invalid. Thankyo Irene XXXXXX

Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ash replied 3 years ago.
Alex Watts :

Hello my name is ***** ***** I will help you with this. Please note that I am a working Solicitor and may be on and offline as I have to attend Court and meet with clients, even at weekends. As such you may not get an instant response when you reply as this is not an ‘on demand’ live service, but rest assured I will be giving your question my immediate attention upon return. There is no need to wait here, you will get an email when I reply.

Alex Watts :

I assume you mean you are in week 5? You did not cancel within 7 days?

Customer:

Hello Alex! do you mean a cooling off period? in which case no.

Alex Watts :

Thank you, ***** ***** bad news you did not cancel.

Alex Watts :

Did you read before you signed it?

Customer:

I had no reason 7 days into the contract that I would have problems so early on and was surprised that they wanted the whole 15 weeks when the high street estate agent is roughly 2 weeks

Customer:

Yes I did read the contract before signing but they wanted to bring down the price £40,000 to sel.

Customer:

Sorry Alex my computer seems to be losing letter.

Alex Watts :

So you knew you were tied in for 20 weeks?

Customer:

Would it be better if I explained the situation from the beginning?

Alex Watts :

Yes please do if it would assist.

Alex Watts :

But I also need to know if you knew you were signing for 20 weeks.

Customer:

Quote from contract:" Sole selling Rights Period 20 weeks from the start date."

Alex Watts :

But you knew or read this before you signed?

Customer:

Duration & Termination This agreement starts on the date of the last signature and will continue initially for the sole selling rights period and after that indefinitely until terminated by either party giving the other party a written notice of 14 days yes I did read it.

Customer:

I put my house on the market Nov 2013 for £290.000 and didn't have much luck. I received a letter from Springbok Properties

Customer:

promising earth shattering results if I joined them. I spoke to their office and a representative came to explain their system and took photographs of the property. I then was asked to sign electronically their contract on 20th May and the house went on the market on 3rd June incorporating the 7 days cooling off period inbetween. I could not proceed without signing that contract.

Customer:

Next step they started their selling technique about property prices in the area being lower than mine and that to sell I would have to drop to below £250.000 to get a sale because no one wanted to pay stamp duty these days if it could be avoided. Interested parties were average families and that they needed to extend, which they estimated would cost between £40.000 and £60.000 and I wouldn't sell it for anymore. Now I don't mind taking an offer for this property but I am not dropping the price to that extent so that someone can afford to extend. I reminded them that their commission was 2% + vat and it wasn't only about selling but buying too and my plans were all of a sudden up in the air so I would rethink the situation.

Customer:

After much discussion with my other half we decided to pull out and go back to the original Estate Agent whose fees are only 3/4 per cent, and if all I could expect from the sale of this house was £250.000 I would be better off. This is when they reminded me of the contract, which was sent to my email and could let you have a copy if it would help you understand my problem

Customer:

I went to see a solicitor last evening who told me as there wasn't cancellation right written into it the whole thing was invalid. He didn't get how the electronic signature worked and never heard of it and told me to go away and ring Trading Standards as he suspected a scam. So here we are.

Alex Watts :

Did you instruct or sign online please?

Customer:

The whole process was done over the phone - I signed the contract online and a copy was emailed to me for my file.

Alex Watts :

Did the agents start the work, I assume they did?

Customer:

Yes

Alex Watts :

If that is the case then the Solicitor is wrong, the Distance Selling Regulations do not apply.

Alex Watts :

You only need to be given cancellation notice but the DSR's do not apply where the contract for service has started

Alex Watts :

Therefore the DSR's do not apply.

Alex Watts :

If you knew it was 20 weeks and you signed up to that and agreed to the terms you will face difficulty in getting out

Alex Watts :

You are trying to use the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contract regulations.

Alex Watts :

However what happens when you sign up to a mobile phone contract for 24 months?

Alex Watts :

You know what you are getting into

Alex Watts :

Its a 24 month contract.

Alex Watts :

The same here, you know you are getting into a 20 week contract

Alex Watts :

If the agent has not been performing or doing what they said, then that is a separate matter.

Alex Watts :

Just because dont you want to be involved in a 20 week contract and you have changed your mind, may be difficult to get out of

Alex Watts :

The Regs state:

Alex Watts :

(1) A contractual term which has not been individually negotiated shall be regarded as unfair if, contrary to the requirement of good faith, it causes a significant imbalance in the parties' rights and obligations arising under the contract, to the detriment of the consumer.


(2) A term shall always be regarded as not having been individually negotiated where it has been drafted in advance and the consumer has therefore not been able to influence the substance of the term.


(3) Notwithstanding that a specific term or certain aspects of it in a contract has been individually negotiated, these Regulations shall apply to the rest of a contract if an overall assessment of it indicates that it is a pre-formulated standard contract.

Alex Watts :

However they are required to bring your attention to any unusual clause.

Alex Watts :

If you knew you were singing a 20 week contract then you may be in difficulty.

Customer:

OK so can I remarket the property within the next 2 weeks with the new estate agent without incurring 2 lots of commission fees if it sells within the 15 week period.

Alex Watts :

No - that is not what I am saying

Alex Watts :

You are bound by the 20 week contract

Alex Watts :

Once that expires you are ok

Alex Watts :

But if the agent has failed in some way you may have a get out there under Section 13 of the Sale and Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982

Alex Watts :

Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?

Customer:

Ok Alex! does that means I have to sit out the terms of the contract until 21st Oct after giving them 2 weeks notice

Alex Watts :

Sadly on my reading it does yes

Alex Watts :

I am sorry its not better news and not the answer I want to give you, but I have a duty to be honest

Customer:

So I can go ahead with the new estate agent?

Alex Watts :

You can but you may be liable for 2 fees

Alex Watts :

Can I clarify anything else for you today about this?

Customer:

No Alex you have very kindly given me the answer, I suppose I knew all along the outcome. I am pleased I pursued it further as my instinct told me something wasn't right after my consultation last night. so thank you very much and goodnight.

Alex Watts :

I am sorry!

Alex Watts :

If this answers the question for you might I invite you to rate my answer before you leave

Alex Watts :

If the system wont let you please do say

Alex Watts :

If you need more help please click reply

Customer:

Certainly!

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