An estate agent which publicly outed a lesbian couple who were selling their house has been reprimanded by its trade body.

Jackson Stops & Staff listed the couple’s property on the internet with the reference number replaced by the word ‘lesbians’.

It has already paid £5,000 in damages to Suzanne Richards and Sarah Dobinson but has now been reprimanded by Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)

RICS found that a junior member of staff had placed the word on the listing but said the company had failed to “act with integrity” when the couple complained.

After ruling the episode could bring the firm and RICS into disrepute, the trade body concluded: “It is therefore appropriate that the firm should be reprimanded for the breach of the rules which resulted from the actions of their employee.”

Richards and Dobinson discovered the listing after an assessment visit in February 2008 when they decided to check property websites used by the agents.

They discovered that the reference used for their property on www.rightmove.co.uk was the word ‘lesbians.’

“We were both shaking with disbelief and in tears when we read the property reference on the rightmove website,” they said.

“We had entrusted these people, welcomed them into the most intimate parts of our home and this was how they treated us.

“The repercussions of such actions could have been catastrophic – publicly linking our home address with our sexuality could have ruined our lives.”

Last June, Jackson Stops & Staff accepted liability and paid £5,000 compensation to the couple for injury to their feelings.