Comment: What are our moral obligations?


Maybe we should extend our remit to ensure decisions made by clients in areas outside our jurisdiction are the right ones

Cast your minds back to before the election and one topic was starting to dominate the papers: leaseholds. This age-old tenure that for so long had caused so little trouble it barely got a mention was suddenly all we could talk about.

New-build housing developments across the country were allegedly being sold as leasehold properties rather than freeholds – in some cases, without the buyer’s knowledge.

Details were buried in the small print of contracts and buyers who would not think to ask about the tenure of the property (why would they?) were signing on the dotted line without understanding the repercussions.

The whole thing got me thinking about brokers and our role in the housebuying process. Many of the reports around leasehold properties centred on buyers being kept in the dark, or at least feeling that way. Estate agents were not offering the information; developers were not being clear about it.

It made me consider whether we are good at meeting our professional obligations but perhaps not always at asking ourselves what our moral ones are.

Those agents who did not offer up the information were probably not asked about it. Professionally, they stayed within the rules. But should they have gone that extra mile and provided more detailed information, even if the customer did not require it?

Sometimes we are so bogged down with meeting the requirements of our roles that we do not have the time to do any more. But the majority of advisers are a conscientious bunch who want to do right by their client and not just by the regulator.

So do we need to be looking at what we can do outside our remit? Perhaps we need to ask more questions and ensure the decisions the client is making in areas outside our jurisdiction are the right ones.

Dave Edwards is commercial director at Personal Touch