The advertising on the advertisers’ website referred to the following:
“1 McDermott Avenue, Mervue, Co. Galway – BER 1
€149,000 Semi-Detached House/4 Beds/1 Bath
For sale by Private Treaty
Overall Floor Area: 89 Sq. Metres (958 Sq. Feet)
Sherry FitzGerald are delighted to offer No. 1 McDermott Avenue for sale by Private Treaty. This 4 bedroom semi-detached bungalow is in an excellent location and offers spacious accommodation to the discerning purchaser…”
The complainant said that the advertisers had failed to state in their advertising that the property had a 40 year lease attached to it with Galway County Council. He said that he only discovered this fact after he had paid his solicitor to check the documentations attached to the property. He considered that the information concerning the lease should have been stated in the advertising as it had a major bearing on the sale of the house.
The advertisers said that at the request of their client, the owner of the property, they commenced marketing the property in question on the 22nd October 2014. It was advertised in the standard fashion, providing high level information only on the property for sale, which included the address, images, price and a brief description. At this stage in the process they said neither the vendor nor themselves were aware of the title attached to the property. They said, however, that it was not the normal or usual practice for any agent to advertise title details.
The advertisers said that the property was sale agreed on 25th November 2014 and “Sale Agreed” letters were issued to the owner, the proposed purchasers and to each party’s solicitors on 26th November. The proposed purchaser then contacted them on 4th December after their solicitor had received contracts from the vendor’s solicitor informing them that the contract had stated that the property held a leasehold title which they had not been made aware of.
The auctioneers said that all properties which are sale agreed do so subject to the normal contract/contract denied with any proposed purchaser. Page two of their sale agreed letters contains a section called: “Conditions”, Part 1 which states that “This sale is subject to contract and title.”
The Title deeds and information are held by either the vendor’s solicitor or their bank, in the majority of cases they said agents are not privy to title information.
They said that title does not prevent a property from being sold, and it is standard industry practice not to include title information in any property advertisement. To this end they had received clarification from the Property Services Regulatory Authority that “there is no obligation under the Property Services (Regulation) Act 2011 (or in regulations under that Act) which obliges a licensee” (estate agent legally operating in Ireland) “to include if a property is freehold or leasehold” in advertising.
Finally the advertisers provided links to several properties for sale by various estate agents in and around the Mervue area in Galway to demonstrate that it was not normal practice to include title deeds in property advertising.
Complaint not upheld.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. They noted that it was not a requirement of the Property Services Regulatory Authority to state if a property was freehold or leasehold when advertising a property for sale. They also noted from the links provided by the advertisers that it was not normal practice for other auctioneers to include this information in their marketing communications. While the Committee understood the complainant’s disappointment in this case, they did not consider that the advertising had breached the requirements of the Code and did not uphold the complaint.
No further action was required in this case.