What does defamation mean for letting and estate agents?

Defamation is a real worry for letting and estate agents because making a statement that damages someone’s reputation is so easy to do.

Professional indemnity cover for property professionals adds a layer of protection after the fact.

What does defamation mean for letting and estate agents?

Defamation can happen in three ways –

  • Slander – saying something about another person that is not true
  • Libel – publishing an untrue statement
  • Malicious falsehood – spreading untrue information which could lead to a financial loss

Each is considered defamation and the person who considers their reputation is harmed can claim for damages.

Damages are assessed case by case, and can mount up to tens of thousands of pounds plus costs.

Settling a complaint or having to pay out after an expensive court case could ruin a profitable business.

It’s worth briefing staff on how to handle complaints and warn them not to get frustrated with customers who could make a complaint of defamation or rudeness.

Insurance does not stop someone being defamed, but does help with the costs of taking legal advice and defending a claim.

How can a property professional defame someone?

Businesses and individuals jealously guard their reputations and are fast to act if they judge someone is saying something bad about them.

Writing a bad reference about an employee, landlord or tenant could land a letting agent in hot water.

It’s better to say nothing unless you can prove the facts in court – and that can be difficult if you want to raise a concern.

Misrepresentation is one of the most common ways property professionals are accused of defaming their customers.

This happens when a letting or estate agent says something about a property that leads someone to enter into a tenancy agreement or to purchase a home only to find the facts were wrong.

For example, the letting agent may have said the home came with a parking space when none was available or that the plot the property stands on was larger than indicated on the title.

The grey area is if what was said or published was an opinion of statement of fact.

If someone claims that they entered into a contract and lost money as a result of a misrepresented statement, that could easily lead to a costly defamation case.

What does defamation insurance cover?

Defamation cover is part of professional indemnity insurance for letting and estate agents.
The policy will typically include:

  • Legal expenses for the cost of lawyers defending a claim
  • Any compensation paid out by the insurer, in or out of court
  • Any sundry costs related to the claim

Call Hamilton Fraser on 0345 310 6388 or email info@hfprofessionalindemnity.co.uk for a bespoke professional indemnity policy designed with the agent in mind.

Back to Education Centre

Premiums start from £12.60* a month

* Based on £100,000 worth of cover. Plus insurance premium tax (IPT) currently at 12%.