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Clampdown on lettings agents triggered by MPs’ own experiences - claim

A prominent member of the House of Lords has given a surprising insight into how the fiscal and regulatory clampdown on letting agents and landlords began - and it’s all down to MPs’ own experiences dealing with the private rental sector for the first time.

Lord Richard Best, a cross-bencher, is chair of the Regulation of Property Agents Working Group, which has produced proposals for mandatory qualifications for agents.

In an address to conveyancers earlier this week, Lord Best - who over almost half a century has worked with housing trusts and associations, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, The Property Ombudsman and other housing industry organisations - said the biggest change in his lifetime has been the expansion of the private rental sector. 


In just two decades it’s grown from housing nine per cent of households to 20 per cent across the country, and 40 per cent in larger cities including London - he described this as “a phenomenon.”

And he went on to say that until recently ‘regulation’ was seen as an unpopular process with politicians, especially those of older generations who were almost wholly owner occupiers. But as owner occupation has dropped, so rental regulation has increased.

“That’s because MPs for the first time came into contact with agents, landlords and the private rental sector. They weren’t very aware of it before. But as their sons and daughters cannot always afford to buy, so MPs became aware of the private rental sector - and the same for the House of Lords, in relation to their grandchildren” he told the conveyancers.

“Lots of MPs and their children, and Lords and their grandchildren, have encountered the private rental sector in a way they hadn’t before. Did it go well? Sadly, for many, it didn’t.”

Lord Best, who was speaking to the Council for Licensed Conveyancers’ annual conference, reiterated the ROPA recommendations that there would be mandatory qualifications and a code of conduct - the latter being tougher than that which exists now through trade organisations like The Property Ombudsman.

There would be two key phrases that would be “vital” to the industry: every agent would have to be “a licensed agent” and a member of “a regulated body.” 

He said there would be no exceptions.

Best said that all government ministers, trade bodies, political parties and consumer groups were in favour; legislation is likely to be completed within two years.

  • Stephen Chipp

    And yet the vast majority of tenants are happy - clearly the people making the decisions in this Country did not do their due diligence on choosing agents and landlords! A tad worrying!

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    Well said Stephen, Good and bad in all service industries ! Best to go by recommendation rarely lets you down !

    Too Much regulation, I wrote to Lord Best recently as a established Agent in Mill Hill North West London, he failed to address most of my points in my email however, seems hell bent in bringing in this qualification standard, I am a Independent one man band agent, I hope giving a good service to the community, but now being 58 and having to do a lot more paperwork than ever before, now I will have to do both Level 3 as well as level 4 in both Sales and Lettings, when on earth will I find the time to do 4 disciplines on all theses modules....Good Luck with that one !
    If I do not in the future carry out or pass the said exams, I am being threatened to leave the industry and retire ! , I for one cannot afford to retire and will fight tooth and nail to protect the business I worked hard for and built up , with no help for the Government I may add, which provides plenty of VAT and taxes, which they have earn't on the back of my business !

    As a member of both ARLA, NAEA & Safeagent as well all bodies that will earn fortunes with the courses and studying that will need to take place for thousands of agents !

    Lord Best may think everyone is the academic type, but not everyone sits comfortably doing exams, but does not make them a bad Sales/Letting Agent, we just apply ourselves in a different way than the more academic type....This is a peoples business and keeping up with the correct legislation and changes is all a agent needs to be aware of , not the stressful studying and exam route.

    Hope the Government don't make it to difficult for me to carry on and not being forced to retire by Lord Best whom gets plenty of Financial privilege sitting in The House Of Lords !

    • 30 January 2020 12:23 PM

    My sympathies as a a LL lie with your heartfelt sentiments.
    However while you might be a dedicated and professional LA there are many who aren't.
    It is this unregulated industry that has spawned many rogues.
    Unfortunately good LA like you are swept up in the negative sentiments that are TOTALLY justified for some LA.
    This is the price you will be forced to pay for all the rogues.
    This is what happens when you have an unregulated industry.

    A very small minority spoil this for the vast majority of good people.
    Unfortunately for you there is little alternative than to pass the relevant exams if you wish to stay in business.
    No matter how justifiably you feel about these latest missives if you wish to continue your successful business you need to get studying and pass those exams.

    It cannot be too long before LL will be required to have some sort of training etc.
    Govt as a general principle is on a regulation path for all those engaged in property.
    Perhaps no bad thing when you consider the vast sums of money involved.
    As such will always attract the rogues.
    If such PITA regulation prevents most of these rogues then perhaps the inconvenience is a price worth paying to preserve what should be a level playing field.


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