Greater regulation of lettings agents, and all other property professionals, is required to ‘finish the job’ of reforming the industry which has started with other initiatives such as the upcoming Rental Reform Bill.
That’s the view of Propertymark’s policy and campaigns director Timothy Douglas.
He says the government must at long last push ahead with the proposals of the Regulation of Property Agents (RoPA) working party, first released almost three years ago.
“There is political appetite for the UK Government to respond to the RoPA report and implement its recommendations” insists Douglas.
“The property sector is going through significant change with legislation impacting leaseholders, economic crime and the purchasing of property from overseas buyers, proposals to reform private renting and new building and fire safety requirements.
“These changes are important but without regulating and driving up standards for sales, lettings and managing agents who will implement these rules and work with consumers often at the start of their home buying and renting journey, the UK government risk only doing half a job when it comes to levelling up the housing market.”
The issue of RoPA - thought to have been largely forgotten by government - returned to the Commons recently with a question to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, asking when the recommendations would be implemented.
The answer was largely non-committal, saying the government remained “committed to creating a fair and just housing system that works for everyone” and praising work being undertaken by the industry itself to raise professionalism and standards across the sector, including on potential codes of practice for property agents.
The Regulation of Property Agents working party recommends:
- a new independent regulator to lead a new public body to oversee a new regulatory regime for property agents;
- the new regulatory regime will be binding on companies, and certain individuals, that act as intermediaries to property transactions;
- those who are regulated will have to be licensed by the new regulator;
- the regulator will also be responsible for an overarching statutory code of practice, with different parts binding on agents depending on their area of work;
- a new ‘modular’ approach to qualifications, required for individuals within regulated companies “allowing agents to become proficient in those aspects of property agent work as suits the needs of their role and career, subject to minimum requirements”; and
- the new regulator is central to “a system of enforcement and redress which takes on, at their discretion, the support of national and local trading standards, of redress schemes, and of professional bodies.”
You can see a full summary of its proposals here.