Propertymark has written to Housing Secretary Michael Gove to remind him of the importance of regulating letting and estate agents.
The trade body says current legislative activity on both the Renters Reform Bill and the new Freehold and Leasehold Reform Bill presents ideal opportunities to legislate for the highest standards of practice in the sector, which will benefit both agents and consumers.
In February this year Gove stated that all property managers in the social rented sector should be qualified, and Propertymark has urged him to extend this requirement to lettings, sales and managing agents in the private housing sector.
At its conference last month Labour pledged that if in government it would introduce regulation as recommended by Lord Best in his much-praised 2019 report.
Timothy Douglas, policy and campaigns head Propertymark, says he’ll state the case for regulation when he gives evidence to the Renters Reform Bill Committee tomorrow.
Douglas insists that regulation offers huge potential to professionalise the sector. He believes all property agents should be qualified to at least Level 3, carry out regular training, undertake Continuing Professional Development each year, be members of a professional body and follow a code of practice.
And Propertymark says mandatory government regulation of agents is the quickest and most effective method to eliminate unprofessional, unqualified, and unethical agents from the property sector.
Letting agents play a significant role in the private rented sector – an estimated 46 per cent of landlords use an agent who can carry out a variety of functions including inspections, notices, and the daily running and management of a property, as well as holding the vital relationship with the tenant.
This could mean that potentially over two million households could be left uncovered by efforts to improve standards within the Private Rented Sector, if the focus on enforcement and new standards remains solely with landlords.
Currently, there are no barriers to entry to work within the property sector or even to belong to a professional membership body.
Propertymark says that means varying levels of service, standards and application of new and existing laws and uncertainty amongst consumers about what they should expect from an agent.
Nathan Emerson, CEO of Propertymark comments: “Piecemeal legislation is unmanageable and unenforceable and there is no overarching regulation to ensure property agents meet basic competency standards.
“The Renters Reform Bill provides an opportunity to introduce minimum qualification requirements and a statutory Code of Practices to be adhered to by all letting, managing and sales agents, professionalising the sector and giving consumers vital protections.”