Campaign against standard term estate agency contracts

Author: gauk

Evans and the Industrial Tribunal

Excellent Web Site am sure it helped bring Evans down with total justification…. Karma does work ….I have waited 20 years for it…. He has not changed one iota.

I had the misfortune of working for him and I was chasing an exchange on a Friday when the Buyers Solicitor tried to drop the price by 3.5% , I firmly told him that I would report to my client however it was not carrying my recommendation.

Evans overheard my response and asked what was happening. I explained to him to which his response was “its peanuts to us….” bearing in mind our fee was 2% it was not a huge amount to us, however I pointed out that the amount of the proposed reduction covered the whole of our fees plus VAT and most of the solicitors fees as well for our Client.

He barked at me Get it Exchanged or else….. I ignored that and told my Client to stand his ground sure enough He did and we did eventually exchange though not until nearly a week later. Which I am pleased to say was at the originally agreed price, I gave the Solicitor a flea in his ear as well for disreputable behaviour.

Needless to say Evans and I fell out and I ended up at an Industrial Tribunal where the Magistrate instructed Penyards to settle and my brief had to threaten winding up procedures after one of a series of post dated cheques from Coutts bounced…!!!

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National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team

Unless the Estate Agent Has kidnapped or Attempted to Murder You, Don’t Expect Any Help!

We took our complaint to National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team and were surprised that there was actually some progress.  One of the team wrote to the Property Ombudsman asking why they had not taken action when Evans had clearly breached their code of practise.  We were awaiting a reply when we received this from the team manager … The contents beggar belief!

JMM

National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team James Munro

‘Your email has been passed to me as I understand you are not happy with the response from our team.

Firstly, I am sorry to read about the problems you have had, and are continuing to have. Secondly, I need to clarify our role so that you are clear what we can, and can’t do. Our duty is to assess individuals or businesses as to their fitness to carry out estate agency work, and to prohibit or warn those we find to be unfit. We do this after there has been a breach of the Estate Agents Act or an undertaking, or if a relevant offence has been committed which can trigger such an investigation (section 3 of the Estate Agents Act 1979 refers). This is normally done after an investigation by the local Trading Standards Service or other enforcement agency such as the Police or HMRC which then gives us the evidence to proceed. To give you some idea of the context of this, recent cases have included orders made in respect of individuals who have committed large scale fraud, manslaughter, kidnapping, and serious assault.

I accept that you are very aggrieved by the action which has been taken by the agent involved, and are also unhappy with the circumstances surrounding the subsequent court case. I cannot however find any evidence in your complaint that there has been either a breach of the Estate Agents Act, or that an offence has been committed which could trigger an investigation by us.

Our team consists of 3 full time and 1 part time member of staff to cover the whole of the UK, so we do not have the resources to get involved in attempting to resolve individual disputes. We are therefore unable to contact the agent to mediate or negotiate on your behalf.

I know this is not a response which you will be happy with, but we can only deal with issues where we have the legal powers and resources to take action. Should the local Trading Standards Service or the Police find any evidence which could lead us to start an investigation we would be happy to consider it.

Yours sincerely
James Munro’

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Does Steve Brine MP Winchester, Support Rogue Traders?

steve brine - mp winchesterJust prior to the election we wrote to Steve Brine, MP for Winchester about the situation the victim of Penyards has experienced.  We chose Mr Brine because Grahame Evans of Penyards is a constituent of his and plying his trade from his area.

 rogue definition:

‘Operating outside normal or desirable controls: “How could a single rogue trader bring down an otherwise profitable and well-regarded institution?” (Saul Hansell).’

Mr Brine claims that he is a champion for citizens rights so when we wrote to him with regard to this he replied that ‘if reelected he was happy to consider taking it to House of Commons’.

Naturally, once the conservatives won we picked up the conversation where it had been left.

We also informed Evans of Mr Brine’s admirable stance on supporting a campaign that will affect his litigation, every homeowner in his constituency and the UK.

Then Mr Brine made a dramatic U turn.  It appears that Evans or his solicitors forwarded private correspondence and in doing so we can only assume that as is their way, they have threatened him also (although this is speculation).

We received this:

‘An email has come to my attention. Let me quite clear with you … if you wish to pursue legal proceedings against anyone that is your choice. I cannot, and will not, play any part in that as a Member of Parliament.’

Mr Brine’s comment was obtuse as no one had asked him to pursue legal proceedings against anyone.

He had been asked to support the campaign and ensure homeowners are protected. The aim of the campaign is clear.  The clause in Estate Agents contracts is clearly dangerous when a ‘rogue’ (see definition above) agent such as Grahame Evans chooses to ignore all industry codes of practise and should be struck out.

Now we understand the reluctance to get directly involved in the dispute between Penyards and the victim but the two are intimately entwined.  The victim’s experience is a documented case and what can happen when this clause is leveraged.  ALL UK homeowners are clearly exposed to massive exploitation when agents choose to litigate.

The ONLY reason this does not happen more often is that most agents act in the most professional manner and abide by the Codes of Practice set out to protect the public.

Everybody knows that the law is confusing and it often more about points scoring than what is fair and reasonable. However, this case is pretty straightforward and the clause in standard term estate agent contracts appears to be unfairly biased towards the agent.

The regulations are aimed at contracts made between businesses and consumers, and contracts which are drafted in advance and presented to the consumer to sign. They apply to all standard terms (i.e. those that have not been individually agreed with the consumer), by applying a test of ‘fairness’. If any of the standard terms fail this test, then they will not be enforceable against the consumer.

The OFT, and certain other bodies, can take legal action to prevent the use of unfair terms but they haven’t in this case due to the default judgement (ie there was no defence presented) Penyards luckily secured. A term is likely to be considered unfair if, contrary to the requirement of good faith, it causes a significant imbalance in the parties’ rights and obligations under the contract, to the detriment of the consumer.

Yes, the clause is covered by TPO (Property Ombudsman) National Ass. of Estate Agents guidelines but Evans simply ignored them (rogue: operating outside normal or desirable controls). The TPO, NAEA and Trading Standards clearly have no teeth, therefore the public need to be protected.

TPO and NAEA codes of practice are simply unnecessary – no clause, no issue!

We received a letter from an agent claiming that the clause needs to be there to protect them from clients taking advantage of their marketing and moving on. Well the answer to that we believe is to ensure the agent offers a first class service isn’t it?  If the service is second to none then why would a client move on?

With the clause in place it leaves the door wide open for a super-aggressive estate agent to leverage tens of thousands of pounds from innocent homeowners … and in this case this is not the first time this agent has come to blows.

We have now written several times to Brine but he appears to be hiding behind his autoresponder, ignoring correspondence and in doing so clearly supporting the abhorrent practices of Estate Agents who choose to disregard normal professional practise with horrifying consequences for those who put their trust and property in their hands.

Mr Brine has a golden opportunity here to make a huge difference in championing reforms.  The fact is, that the situation the victim of Penyards faces could happen to anyone in the UK, even Steve Brine and his family. As said, we suspect Mr Brine has received veiled threats which would account for the recent change of mind.  If this is the case then surely it would be motivation to stop this now.

As it stands UK homeowners are open to massive exploitation and by doing nothing Mr Steve Brine is failing in his commitments and the faith his voters placed in him to look after their best interests. 

We await Mr Brine’s comments.

 

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Are Dutton Gregory Winchester Guilty of Deceitful Practices and Perjury?

Colin Passam Dutton Gregory

Screen shot from Dutton Gregory Website (no copyright notice)

Meet Colin Passam, a partner at Dutton Gregory Winchester. His company and employees Stephen Alexandre have handled the case at the center of this campaign on behalf of Evans.

This campaign is about exposing the devastating consequences suffered when an innocent homeowner gets tripped up by legal contracts enforced by the legal profession.

The campaign is simple – The clause in standard estate agent’s contracts Penyards have used to leverage such misery clearly breaches the Unfair Contract Terms Act in our opinion and therefore needs to be struck out once and for all.  Yes, the clause is covered by TPO (Property Ombudsman) National Ass. of Estate Agents guidelines but this agent simply ignored them. The TPO, NAEA and trading standards clearly have no teeth therefore the public need to be protected.

The issue with litigation lawyers is that they sit in their ivory towers sending out writs and enforcements in a business-like fashion, seemingly oblivious to the fact that there are real people left in the wake.  They generate their fees and move on, often without a second thought as to the mess they leave lives in.

The victim recently wrote to Passam outlining concerns regarding the way they conducted themselves to date.  A formal complaint was made but it has been ignored. When we informed Mr Passam that we were going to document our concerns on this website he quickly threatened to sue for defamation!

As far as we are aware, there is no law preventing the reporting of factual events.

The main allegations were that Dutton Gregory (representative) made false statements in court and conspired to ensure important documents were not received.

According to the court record, Dutton Gregory claimed that they ‘were unaware that the emails they sent were bouncing’; indeed this formed a major part of the judge’s final decision to not set aside a default judgement they had secured. (The judgement was made by default because the court failed to even present the defence)

The judge stated that the victim had communicated with the court with that address, which is true but he also communicated via post and other email addresses.  The reason the address would work with the court is that it was whitelisted.  Email is incredibly unreliable.

The victim has copies of the bounced email notifications recovered from the mail server (the judge did not see apparently) and even forwarded one personally to Stephen Alexandre to ensure he was aware of deliverability issues.  As there was not an undeliverable mail notification received then it has to be assumed that Dutton Gregory emails were working.  Yet it appears Alexandre continued to send mail to that undeliverable email address with no response (except undeliverable mail notifications) for nearly two years.

In court Dutton Gregory claimed to have not received the undeliverable email notifications which could possibly be the case.  ‘Surely mail of this importance should have been sent by post?’ Asked the victim. ‘And if they received no response, why didn’t they copy in any of the other contacts they had?’

A private detective was hired by Evans or Dutton Gregory to find the victim’s new address yet when furnished with the new address Dutton Gregory continued to send correspondence to an address that they now knew the recipients did not live at. Was this a deliberate tactic to ensure the victim stood little chance of getting the default judgement set aside because of the delay created?

It certainly formed a major part of the judge’s decision not to set aside the default judgement!

So for the record here is the formal complaint made to Colin Passam of Dutton Gregory

‘Dear Mr Gregory

I am writing to make a formal complaint against Stephen Alexandre and your company.

My complaint is that:

• He conspired to ensure we did not receive important legal documents by sending them by email only to an address he had been informed of as being undeliverable on multiple occasions
• He conspired to ensure we did not receive important legal documents by sending them to an address that you were fully aware of that the recipients did not live at and had not done so for over a year.
• Your representative lied in court under oath possibly based on instructions by your company (I believe you would have stated that you didn’t receive any undeliverable notifications).  You had been sent multiple ‘bounce-back’ emails including one sent separately from a separate address showing the address to which you were sending documents was undeliverable.

This situation has caused considerable impact on me, and my family. By conspiring to send documents to effectively a ‘black hole’ and lying to the court I believe you have manipulated the system to your advantage and facilitated the bankruptcy proceedings we now face.

In my view, you should start a full internal review of the companies actions. Instruct your client EVANS not pursue the default.  Open a full, open and honest mediation as to the legality (unfair contracts act) of the clause used to leverage this action.

………….

I understand that you are required to respond formally to my complaint. I shall follow up this letter if I do not hear back from you by 30th April. In the meantime, if you need any further information from me, please reply to this email (it works!)’

We have given Colin Passam of Dutton Gregory Winchester the opportunity to reply to these allegations and have received no response.

So are Dutton Gregory guilty of deceitful practices and perjury? The facts seem to indicate that there is cause for concern.

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Graham Evans Penyards Claims Harrassment

In an ironic turn of events this week the publishers received an email from the UK police. Evans has now claimed to be the ‘victim’ of harassment!

We believe that on the face of it Evans may come across as a legitimate businessman but in the opinion of his his latest victim ‘he is nothing more than a silver tonged-conman’.

The police were concerned about Evans’ claims:
‘I am currently investigating a case of harassment brought against you in England. The case relates to your continued and personal harassment of PENYARDS and its employees….

Please also disclose how you have been able to gain details of PENYARDS clients, as this may be a direct breach of the data protection act.’

Once we replied the police decided that there was no further action to be taken:

‘Sir

Thank you for your response. I will not take any further action in this case and will look to close the incident shortly. I have added the below email and the documents from your link to our systems for reference. I will also inform Mr EVANS to only have contact with yourselves via a solicitor. He will also be informed that this case will close and that I will take no further action against any party. ‘

Our response to Evans’ claim of harassment is below:

‘I find it very hard to understand how you can ‘allege’ harassment when we are actually responding to an aggressive and intimidatory campaign by Mr Evans. We have not once received a request to cease contact from him or any other parties so need to respond to letters, threats, derisory comments and emails initiated by them.

You will find that the harassment and aggression is all from Mr Evans’ side – If you visit the website you will read the details of harassment my family and I have endured for the last three years from this bully culminating in his threats to ‘bankrupt’ us.

Remember, all we did was put our property on the market with him and now he has escalated it to this.

I can supply you with reams of paperwork from Mr Evans that backs up every single syllable I’ve published. For years now we have told Evans to LEAVE US ALONE. But he has carried out his threat made several years ago to ‘pursue us relentlessly’

Now I have been forced to publish our story with our treatment by Mr Evans at its heart he doesn’t like it. Rather then assessing the situation and fixing the issues that caused us to fire them, he embarked on this road.

The simple fact is that we are now forced to publish our experience (as is our right I believe) for others to read and ensure they do not end up in the same situation. We have begun a perfectly legitimate campaign and have every right to inform others of our experience, especially those with Penyards contracts as they could end up in exactly the same boat. The campaign to outlaw unfair agency contracts is growing in support and we will be taking this to Parliament.

This could even happen to you Simon, or your family! A super-aggressive estate agent taking advantage of agency standard terms that according to law are ‘unfair’ and should not be used. He then bypassed all industry codes of practice rules and sought to intimidate and threaten us from the outset through his lawyers. If he had gone to mediation as we requested this would have been sorted a long time ago but he chose to attack us via email and verbally abuse us in the middle of the night by telephone.

We have recently received more threats from Mr Evans citing court action for defamation but as everything we’ve published is entirely factual they have not proceeded.

I have every right to publish the facts surrounding Mr Evans and if this is causing him issues it is entirely of his own making. As you will read he obtained a court order by default and deception. We do not have the funds, inclination or the geographical advantage to take this through the courts and why should we? We are simply homeowners caught in the grasp of a serial litigator. I know we are not the first homeowners Mr Evans has come to blows with.

I respectfully ask that you look seriously at Evans’ actions and look at charging him with harassment. He simply cannot be allowed to attack clients in this way and there is no place for bullies.

Here is just one example of the dialogue we’ve had to endure in response to a courteous request to seek mediation:

The only default that might occur is your non payment of your liability to me and if that is not discharged at the calling of the bailiff then I will bankrupt yourself and Mrs xxxxx at the earliest moment that papers can be served. You do not determine when this debt is paid, I do!

We should have made our own complaint years ago but hoped it would have been left alone … how wrong we were. We have told Mr Evans on numerous occasions not to contact us but he has ignored this over and over again. He called and threatend my wife and I in the early hours of the morning (2 years ago!) in what appeared to be a drunken stupor and has continued to threaten us ever since.

You need to be aware that:

  • Mr and Mrs Evans are making false statements and I would be interested in hearing what they have claimed in their statement to you
  • Mr Evans is copying and disseminating false and malicious information about myself copied in full breach of copyright law from scam websites
  • Evans has been stalking the profiles of Gauk Media (my company) staff this weekend

 

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Graham Evans Penyards Claims Deformation and Threatens Legal Action

An interesting twist in the campaign to remove unfair clauses from estate agent’s contracts developed last week.

The first ‘surprising’ development was when the vendors were copied in on an email sent by Evans to his solicitors.

Rather than spend time considering options and addressing the issues highlighted in this campaign Evans spent his time trolling the web in an attempt to ‘dig up dirt’ on his ex-client.  We can only imagine his joy when he ‘thought’ he’d discovered gold.

What Evans had stumbled upon was an entirely false article published on a scam website owned by a competitor.

Evans then proceeded to copy and disseminate sections of that website in breach of copyright law and the rights of the website owner: Copyright © 2015 vBulletin Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved.

The website Evans copied is at the center of a huge scam extensively documented on the Internet.  Yet rather than do his research Evans simply copied libelous and defamatory articles and emailed them.

What he hoped to achieve is anyone’s guess and it beggars belief that he would now stoop to these depths when the vendor simply gave Evans the opportunity to sell their home.

When the facts regarding the scam website were pointed out to Evans his reply was to state that he ‘was at the police station’.

Then a day later a letter was received by the vendors at the center of this case from Evans’ New Zealand solicitors claiming that this campaign was defamatory and the publishers ‘had to take down the whole website and publish an apology.’

The letter is copied below and makes interesting reading, especially when placed in the context of the published material on this site.

Evans claims that he has not acted aggressively – on this page we have reproduced dialogue by Evans.

aggressive

əˈɡrɛsɪv/
adjective
  1. ready or likely to attack or confront; characterized by or resulting from aggression.
    “he’s very uncooperative and aggressive”

Our response to Evans New Zealand Lawyers and what we feel are spurious claims:

We have to stand by everything published on the website … whatever the consequences.

Graham Evans of Penyards Country Property Hampshire has instructed his lawyers ‘to bankrupt the vendors without delay’.

So the threats made in the letter to sue for defamation are confusing as if they make the vendors bankrupt what do they expect to gain from sueing a bankrupt?

Secondly, the question was asked ‘under what laws and jurisdiction are they referring to in the letter? This is a UK agent a NZ resident and published by a Delaware company?’ (we await an answer)

The vendors wrote ‘We are a honest, hardworking family who simply put our home on the market in the UK to move to this beautiful country.

I told Evans this would be reported, now it’s starting to bite he’s using lawyers to threaten us further and worse, he’s now scouring the internet trying to dig up dirt on us.  Only yesterday he found an old article from a competitor which is defamatory and is emailing that – so really? Is this the actions of a professional?  I think not!

Take me to court for defamation – I don’t see any judge, or any decent, honest person having any sympathy for Evans – he’s a bully and there is simply no place for bullies.  He embarked on his campaign of harassment from the very outset before we’d even sold our home. Where reasonable professionals would have acted with integrity he chose to threaten us. Now that I am finally FORCED to fight back he’s acting like normal bullies. Instead of apologizing and putting things right, his hiding behind lawyers.

Continue to bankrupt me! I couldn’t fight this in the UK from the other side of the world and I do know that I have no defense here as you’ll just ‘rubber stamp’ the injustice.

All this is doing is adding fuel to the campaign and publicly making Evans accountable for his actions.

Remember, this whole situation is of Evan’s making, we moved on and walked away but he’s pursuing this relentlessly and creating the situation he now finds himself in.

Readers will make up their own minds in the court of public opinion.’

We are simply reporting the facts and if they culminate in the loss of business then, like Gerald Ratner, Evans will be the architect of his own downfall.

Evans is at the center of this campaign and the FACTS are being published.

The vendors say ‘Evans isn’t pursuing a commission we feel is justified (although it is in the contract) – he did nothing, absolutely nothing to deserve anything. In fact I would estimate that his company’s ineptitude in dealing with legitimate offers has cost us hundreds of thousands of pounds.  It was the hard work and negotiating skills of the second agent that secured the sale and Evans motivated by greed and avarice, feels justified in his subsequent actions.’

To the best of our knowledge everything reported here is TRUE but rather than act in a professional manner and mitigate the fall-out, Evans continues to be ‘aggressive’ .. FACT.

There is nothing libellous and if it is defamatory that is because Evans is acting in an astonishing way. Everything is factual – in OUR OPINION he is acting in an aggressive manner and has harassed the vendors for over two years now – that’s not defamatory – it’s FACT

Another FACT is that Evans has dissolved a number of companies in his career as an estate agent:

Director Overview: Graham Evans holds 4 appointments at 4 active companies, has resigned from 5 companies and held 5 appointments at 3 dissolved companies.

The combined cash at bank value for all businesses where Graham holds a current appointment equals £4,414, with a combined total current assets value of £237,354 and total current liabilities of £569,103.

Roles associated with Graham Evans within the recorded businesses include: Company Secretary, Director Registered Details Short name Graham Evans Year of Birth: 1956 Director ID: 906526265

Registered Address:

The Old Cartshed
Old Standlynch Farm
Downton
|Salisbury
Wilts
United Kingdom SP5 3QR

Source: http://companycheck.co.uk/director/906526265

‘Never trust a man who has had a few companies and with some of them ‘company is dissolved’

Not saying he does, but some run up debts and then ‘Phoenix’s a company’ which is legal, but close to the edge.

http://www.companyrescue.co.uk/creditors-voluntary-liquidation/what-is-a-phoenix-company

I’m a estate agent, and I compete against, these sort of estate agents. Who suddenly change their company name very slightly, but outwardly to the public the logo’s are still the same and the website the same. But they ditched the debts of the previous company and start a fresh.’

SOURCE: COMMENT LEFT BY A CAMPAIGN SUPPORTER

Letter received from Evans’ lawyers

[embeddoc url=”http://penyards-estateagents-countryproperties-ournightmare.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/tranter-letter.pdf” viewer=”google”]

Reaction

a> Whilst employed, Penyards acted in a wholly unprofessional manner in the opinion of the vendors. ‘Penyards were instructed clearly on occasion after occasion to not tell clients that we were abroad as this would strengthen their position, yet they continued to barter with our property as if it were their own. We have reams of correspondence where we’re in an argument with them as we didn’t feel they were representing the property properly.  Look, if they were doing a good job they wouldn’t have been fired would they?

I have accused Lisa Evans of lies and stand by that – it is documented. If she can produce the publications that she refers to where she said she’d marketed our property and we could not find them, then I’ll retract that accusation.’

b>according to our interpretation and the opinion of our barrister the clause in the Unfair Contracts Act Evans has leveraged, breaches it.  We do say though as a caveat, that it hasn’t been tested in court in our case and the law appears to be confusing all to the detriment of the homeowner. This is the reason the campaign has been launched and we’re encouraging estate agents to support this with our case at its center.

c>We have not said Penyards managed to get the DEFAULT judgement because of dishonest behavior, we said they managed to get it because the court didn’t present the vendor’s defense. We say they took advantage of home territory and that the vendors were at a significant disadvantage trying to fight it from new Zealand, which is a fact.  The vendors did send the defense but the court simply did not present it resulting in a DEFAULT judgement – Subsequently, Evans team, willfully and in our opinion ‘deceitfully’ sent all correspondence to undeliverable addresses thereby manipulating a situation where the vendors missed all reasonable deadlines in getting the case reheard.

Penyards hired a private detective to track down the vendors as they had moved. Armed with the correct address all subsequent papers were sent to the OLD address.  We do not know if the addresses were sent to Dutton Gregory however they do refer to the correct address in correspondence which would indicate they were in possession of the facts

Dutton Gregory (representatives) then claimed in court and on oath that they did not receive bounce back emails.  The vendor OWNS the hosting company and can see from the log files Dutton Gregory did receive them (however, we cannot prove they were opened).  The vendor personally forwarded the emails Stephen Alexandre and received no undeliverable bounce back so it is assumed that he read them.

In suggesting that the vendors did receive paperwork (sent to undeliverable email address and old mailing address) persuaded the judge to not set aside the default judgement as the vendors had not responded in time.

We stand by our comments that Dutton Gregory acted dishonestly by using undeliverable addresses to send paperwork FACT!  Furthermore, according to industry guidelines Evans should have taken this to mediation, something we asked to do rather than embark upon his campaign.

d>see a

e> see c – a complaint has also been sent to the legal ombudsman.

f> See a – they also failed to follow many TPO guidelines.

g> IT IS FACT that Evans failed to follow multiple codes of TPO Code of Practice

h>When Spencers, a fellow estate agent tried to help resolve the situation Evans called them ‘cowboys’ and accused them of speaking with ‘forked tongues’ (letter available for inspection).

i> “I will bankrupt you and Mrs Tranter at the earliest opportunity” Graham Evans

j>The vendor has not accused him of being drunk as ‘I don’t know – I said he ‘appeared’ drunk so much so that my wife thought it was a dirty phone call and handed the phone to me because she couldn’t understand him.  When I took over he started a tirade of ‘slurred threats’ so I hung up.  In my opinion he was either drunk or having a stroke. The fact that he was aggressive is backed up as hours later as I received his threats to ‘freeze our assets’. (we hadn’t even exchanged contracts!!!)

k> We consider the letter to ‘gag’ free speech and threats of legal action if this this website isn’t taken down ‘aggressive’ and in line with everything the vendors have experienced to date. We have every right to document the facts.

4. The comments in the campaign are, to the best of our knowledge true. Matters surrounding the law are reproduced to the best of our ability as ‘lay person’ and based on the advice of lawyers and our interpretation of it.

‘Which actually it the whole point!’ Says the vendor ‘I am simply a person who wanted to sell my home and this is where we are.  And it is all surrounding the clause Evans has used to devastating effect. It is unfair whether that be legally or morally and our campaign is to get it removed from agency agreements with Evans as an example as to why.’

The Property Ombudsman could not act due to the DEFAULT order and certainly did not support Evans, after all he breached almost every rule in their code.

In my opinion says the vendor ‘we have been utterly shafted by Evans and his lawyers. That is my opinion and I’m fully entitled to it I believe.’

With regard to Dutton Gregory we stand by this publication and the complaint to the ombudsman.

In Summary
We are happy to consider specific points with regard to published material and put right any errors. Point out anything you consider false and send proof as to why.

Other than that the campaign will go on because it affects every person in the UK and other estate agents.  People simply shouldn’t be vulnerable to the opportunistic actions of the likes of Evans and be liable TWO agency fees.

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Trading Standards Remit

Good Morning

I’m sorry that my earlier reply was not what you’d hoped for and I do understand the seriousness of your situation.

I think there is some confusion on your part as to the extent of our remit. We are a local authority service and our statutory function is the enforcement of criminal legislation.

The clause you refer to is not illegal and is in fairly common use by Estate Agents in the UK. Whether it is ‘unfair’ within the meaning of the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations is ultimately a matter for the civil courts in any particular case. The use of the clause is not a breach of criminal law.

We do not advertise or provide a dispute resolution service.   It does appear on the website of the Property Ombudsman to whom I believe your complaint was referred but unfortunately I understand that their jurisdiction ceases once a dispute has been referred to a court of law.

I am sorry that we cannot assist you but, if you wish to register a formal complaint, the procedure is documented on our website and I attach a link to the appropriate page:

http://www3.hants.gov.uk/haveyoursay/complaints/complaints-procedures.htm

Regards,
Jennifer Lenton
Trading Standards Officer

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Evans ‘aggressive’ dialogue

The only default that might occur is your non payment of your liability to me and if that is not discharged at the calling of the bailiff then I will bankrupt yourself and Mrs xxxxxxx at the earliest moment that papers can be served. You do not determine when this debt is paid, I do!

Graham Evans Penyards

Graham Evans Penyards

4th Aug 2013.  We received a phone call at approx 2am GMT where Mr Evans appeared drunk, slurring threats to ‘get my money’ and ‘freeze our assets’.

‘In the event that you fail to respond to this confirming, as in the attached email, our introduction and entitlement to our fee then our company Dutton Gregory have my instructions to apply to the court for a freezing order on Monday to ensure that our rightful demand for payment is met and that any expenses liabilities that are incurred in pursuit of this will also form part of our claim.’

‘I repeat my previous comments. My lawyers have irrevocable instructions to pursue you without compromise or delay. I have forwarded your email and demanded that they continue with immediacy.’

‘…… Our entitlement to our fee is established under clause 10.1 10.1.2 of our terms and conditions of business….

Our entitlement to our fee is clear and beyond dispute. Therefore I again refer to my previous email, unless our interests are confirmed by your legal representative and that the conditions of our agreement with you are protected, see clause 7. Of the attached document, referring to your
“irrevocable instructions” then you will leave me with no alternative, irrespective of any initial personal cost to myself, I intend to claim full recovery of all costs. I will pursue a freezing order through the courts by close of business on Monday 5th August 2013 without any further recourse to you, this may involve you in considerable unnecessary additional expense of which no doubt your solicitor will advise.’

‘I think given the spurious nature of your response I am more than content to leave this to the lawyers and judges to adjudicate over the position. You may however be advised that I will be relentless in my pursuit of this by fair and legal means.’

‘As stated in my communication yesterday the matter has now been refereed to our company solicitors who have my instructions to proceed to protect my firms interest in this and to instigate the procedures for a freezing order.’

EVANS REPLY TO A FELLOW ESTATE AGENT WHO WAS ATTEMPTING TO RESOLVE THE ISSUE: ‘However we unfortunately appear to have very differing professional standards. Now let us address these differing professional standards. I will also deal with the expression ‘normal professional etiquette’. I am bewildered by your double standards, or should I in fact so no apparent standards at all, you have completely and utterly contradicted everything that you have previously held as credible and honourable. It reminds me of the old western movies, ‘cowboys’ speak with forktongue.’

‘My solicitors in New Zealand have been given my irrevocable instructions, that is to say, that in the event that you fail in anyway to comply with the order of the Courts then they are to enforce bankruptcy proceedings … immediately following the court deadline.’

‘Once again for the purpose of an absolute and unambiguous reply. If the liability is not discharged, as determined by the courts, then the lawyers in New Zealand Pitt & Moore have irrevocable instructions to implement bankruptcy proceedings forthwith.’

‘You continue to be deluded, you misrepresent yourself and, to their great misfortune, those who have endeavoured to advise to the point of embarrassment. You have had your time and will be granted no more, my instructions are irrevocable.’

EVANS DISSEMINATES FALSE, LIBELOUS AND DEFAMATORY MATERIAL COPIED FROM ACAM WEBSITES IN BREACH OF COPYRIGHT LAW: Evans spent his time trolling the web in an attempt to ‘dig up dirt’ on his ex-client.  We can only imagine his joy when he ‘thought’ he’d discovered gold.

What Evans had stumbled upon was an entirely false article published on a scam website owned by a competitor.

Evans then proceeded to copy and disseminate sections of that website in breach of copyright law and the rights of the website owner.

The website Evans copied is at the center of a huge scam extensively documented on the Internet.  Yet rather than do his research, Evans simply copied large sections of false, libelous and defamatory articles and emailed them out.

When the facts regarding the scam website were pointed out to Evans his reply was to state that he ‘was at the police station’.

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Christopher Hamer ‘Cannot’ Enforce The Property Ombudsman Code of Practice

Christopher Hamer: The Property Ombudsman on Redress

christopher-hamer-cropped‘My role as The Property Ombudsman (TPO) is to provide an independent facility for resolving disputes between firms which are registered with the scheme and buyers, sellers of property in the UK.

The Code of Practice for Residential Sales has received independent accreditation under the OFT’s Consumer Codes Approval Scheme (CCAS).  That is important for the credibility of the Code.’

Chris Hamer

As documented in this website it appears that Grahame Evans was in breach of numerous TPO guidelines so the victim of Penyards turned to TPO for help.

In the first instance Evans had threatened to freeze assets, to take legal action, to disrupt a sale and had called the victim in the middle of the night making threats and slurring his words.

The victim felt these actions went far and beyond normal professional practices and made a complaint to TPO.

The complaint was lengthy but the reply was summarised as ‘ TPO were unable to act as no sale had even take place’.

This wasn’t the ‘protection’ or even fair consideration the victim had been led to expect.

There was a protracted exchange which dealt with barriers and objections. The victim felt they were being fobbed off and were feeling more and more helpless.

They had gone to TPO to help get clarification on their situation including the clause we now understand seems to breach the Unfair Contracts Act.

The victim claims that if TPO had acted and helped clarify the situation and mediated as requested then all this could have been resolved two years ago.

But the fact is they didn’t help and Evans has been allowed to continue.

TPO guidelines are crystal clear and it is also crystal clear that Evans breached multiple clauses.

The most important are that:

  • The agent should not use a contract that is in breach of the Unfair Contracts Act
  • That on termination of a contract the terms of termination should be clearly laid out so that the customer knows exactly where they stand
  • That the contract has a six month time frame

The full complaint is here: http://penyards-estateagents-countryproperties-ournightmare.co.uk/complaint-to-the-property-ombudsman/

Now as the breaches by Evans are black and white the victim again turned to TPO for support.

  • The term appears to be unenforceable
  • Penyards failed in their duty of care
  • Penyards failed to outline the terms of termination
  • The six months was exceeded

It has to be understood that although TPO claims to:

‘provide fair and reasonable resolutions to disputes between members of the public and estate agents who are members of the TPO Scheme or who have registered with TPO as an Approved Estate Agents Redress Scheme. Firms who are members follow the TPO Code of Practice for Residential Sales.’

It is not a straightforward process.  There are so many hoops to jump through it makes life very hard for the lay person to succeed.  In fact it is the victim’s opinion that the scheme is simply a ‘clearinghouse for complaints’ and ‘the system is in place to protect its members’.

When the victim first complained they felt they were being sent round in circles.  They followed the guidelines, made a complaint to Evans who ignored any attempts at mediation and simply threatened legal action:

I hereby confirm my final formal instruction. Upon exchange of contracts if we do not receive confirmation from your solicitor of your irrevocable instruction to honour the terms and conditions of business, as previously set out, and payment is not received on the date set for completion, then my solicitors will be issued with instructions to make full recovery of all sums due through whatever process they deem most expedient.’

This was Evan’s ‘final response’.

When the complaint was made TPO replied:

‘The Ombudsman is unable to fully review a complaint until all of your complaints have been raised with the agent in writing and they have had an opportunity to respond to the matters before the complaint is referred to this office.’

Was the victim justified in feeling they were being sent round in circles?

The complaint simply appeared to fall on deaf ears and went nowhere. So at this point, as a sale had not even taken place it was decided to leave it and complain at a later date should it be necessary.

It certainly became necessary some considerable time later!

By the time the second complaint went into TPO it was clear Evans had complete contempt for TPO guidelines that were supposed to be in place to prevent the very situation the victims found themselves in.

A second more serious complaint was made providing full evidence and documentation.

The case seemed black and white!

Then, to the surprise of the complainant rather than a full and thorough investigation into the breaches of TPO guidelines Hamer outlined the reasons for not acting.

Hamer cites the default judgement.  However as the judgement had absolutely nothing to do with TPO guidelines and was made by default we find it hard to understand the relevance.

The TPO have a published code of practice, Penyards are a member of the scheme and commit to abide by the code.  Evans breaches multiple codes therefore surely TPO must take action?

According to Hamer it appears not and in doing so have facilitated the situation the victim now faces:

Att Mr Hammer

As a layperson we have no knowledge of the hurdles and technicalities put up to prevent a thorough and fair investigation but do understand we should be treated fairly and our grievances heard and with a case so serious as this expect some grace with administration failures.  

‘By dealing with a Member of the TPO, the public may be confident about the agent’s approach in its dealings with actual and potential buyers and sellers of residential property or lettings in the UK.

Many estate agents have in addition agreed to follow the TPO Code of Practice for Residential Estate Agents. Estate agents signing up to this Code of Practice are required to provide additional consumer protection that goes beyond that required by the law.’

From the experience we have it appears that you are not as advertised and appear to be simply a clearing house set up to whitewash complaints of the utmost severity (as you have just tried to do). You have a published code of practise set up to apparently protect innocent consumers which has been treated with contempt and arrogance by a rogue agent.

‘The Ombudsman’s role is to reach a resolution of unresolved disputes in full and final settlement and, where appropriate, he will make an appropriate award of financial compensation or other action for example make an apology. Therefore, if you feel that you have been disadvantaged by the actions or inactions of a TPO member, you have access to an independent dispute resolution service and can be certain of receiving a fair and reasonable judgment of your complaint.’

If we feel we have been disadvantaged???

This is so serious it could leave us homeless and thrown out of New Zealand. By riding roughshod over your codes this agent has managed to not only secure a DEFAULT judgement but has generated MASSIVE costs in the process.

We came to you for help in resolving this issue back in 2013 and were fobbed off stating that ‘as there was no sale you couldn’t comment’ and as far as I remember we were told to come back if issues arose.  If you have dealt with the complaint back then we would not be in this situation now.

This is a fresh complaint and has absolutely NOT been dealt with fairly, openly or even given full consideration.

With regard to the court process you keep referring to this has NOT dealt with any of the breaches of your code.  

Even if the court ordered that we have to pay the fee, the actions of professional misconduct and multiple breaches of TPO codes are a separate issue.  Your key code states that a contract should not contain unfair terms – the terms used to date by the agent appear to be in breach of your guidelines along with multiple others.  If you have taken our complaint seriously in 2013 and looked into this, then there would be no grounds to take this to court.

The issues raised in the complaint have not been heard by a court.  THE COURT DID NOT PRESENT OUR DEFENCE – THIS IS NOT FAIR OR REASONABLE.

Evans was asked to go to arbitration in the first instance to prove his terms were compliant and that he was fair in claiming the fee as is reasonable in these cases.  He ignored the complaint and chose to work through his solicitor.  He filed a court claim over a year later, which we found almost impossible to defend properly as we are now in New Zealand.  We did however send a defence by mail and post which the court did not present so a default judgement was made in our absence. The second case was made by us to have the judgement set aside and the defence heard, but due to deceitful actions by Evans in sending papers to an address he knew we would not receive them created such a delay that we missed all reasonable time restrictions and failed to get the facts heard in context.  

My complaint details breach after breach of your practise, it outlines a clear breach of the unfair terms act.

You have ignored the full complaint and protect your member, regardless of his actions.

According to your marketing I can expect the following:

I expect a full and fair hearing leading to a ‘a resolution of unresolved disputes in full and final settlement ‘

I expect each part of the complaint to be addressed and dealt with,

I expect a fair and independent hearing from you.

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