By using this website, you agree to our use of cookies to enhance your experience.
Graham Awards


Lettings agency regulation demanded by PropTech leader

Regulation of lettings and estate agencies must be a priority for the government elected tomorrow, a PropTech entrepreneur demands.

Sián Hemming-Metcalfe of Inventory Base says she is disappointed that all major parties have declined to pledge reform of the string of laws and regulation changes that have made buy to let less profitable in recent years, forcing landlords to quit the sector.

“Over the past few years, the government has actively penalised landlords with legislative changes designed to make buy-to-let investment less profitable. Now that general election pledges have been put on the table, it’s disappointing to see that nobody is offering anything substantial in the way of recultivating buy-to-let investment.


“The Conservatives and their Capital Gains Tax pledges provide a little positivity,  increasing the potential returns of property investment, but if anything, a tax relief of this sort is more likely to drive landlords to leave the sector rather than encouraging growth.”

But she adds: What I would like to see from whoever is elected is more decisive action around issues such as the Regulation of Property Agents (RoPA) and offering more support to the industry to deliver better and safer homes for tenants. Whatever the outcome of the election on Thursday, we are hoping for a new era of leadership that understands the way to address a housing crisis is not to suppress the entrepreneurial landlord. 

“We need leadership that avoids the easy PR of diverting blame and demonising landlords and instead pushes for proper, long-term solutions to our nation’s housing problem that understands a good mix of tenants and owner-occupiers is essential.”

It’s now five years since the RoPA recommendations were put forward by the working party led by Lord Richard Best. No party has pledged to follow through with them if elected tomorrow. 

In summary, the RoPA regulations are:

Scope of new regulation: “We recommend that all those carrying out property agency work be regulated (including auctioneers, rent-to-rent firms, property guardian providers, international property agents, and online agents)” but this regulation will not extend to property portals like Rightmove and Zoopla nor to the Airbnb-style short-let sector.

“However, we recommend that the legislation required to regulate property agents should allow for future extension to the scope of regulation (e.g. to include at a future point regulation of landlords, freeholders and developers – as well as retirement housing managers and Right to Manage companies).”


The new regulator: “We do not consider that an existing body could take on the role of the new regulator. Therefore, Government should establish a new public body to undertake this role. The new regulator should be established and run with regard to general principles of good governance, including: independence, openness and transparency, accountability, integrity, clarity of purpose and effectiveness. The new regulator, through its board, should be accountable to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government. It should publish an annual report on its progress in raising standards of property agents, using agreed key performance indicators – including customer satisfaction …

“We recommend that the new regulator take over responsibility for the approval of property agent redress and client money protection schemes. The new regulator should have the power to appoint a single ombudsman for property agents, rather than competing redress schemes, if they believe this to be the best way of improving standards.”

“The new regulator should be able to consider complaints from all sources. Where solicitors, lawyers or other professionals have evidence of possible illegal agent behaviour, they should be obliged to present it to the new regulator.”


Licensing: “To confirm appropriate qualifications and credentials, property agencies and qualifying agents should be required to hold and display a licence to practise from the new regulator. Before granting a licence, the new regulator should check that an agent has fulfilled its legal obligations (such as belonging to a redress scheme and submitting a copy of their annual audited accounts to the new regulator) – and that they have passed a fit-and-proper person test. We recommend that the new regulator should be able to vary licensing conditions as it sees fit and that it maintains accessible records of licensed property agents.”


Codes of Practice: “Codes of practice set out clear standards of behaviour. The Government has already committed to requiring that letting agents adhere to a code of practice, and we recommend that all property agents be required to do so. There should be a single, high- level set of principles applicable to all property agents which is set in statute: the ‘overarching’ code. Then, underneath, ‘regulatory’ codes specific to various aspects of property agent practice, binding only on those providing these types of services.

“Key principles for the ‘overarching’ code should include that agents must act with honesty and integrity; ensure all staff are appropriately qualified; declare conflicts of interest; and have an effective complaints procedure in place. To develop and maintain the ‘regulatory’ codes, the new regulator should establish a working group for each sector of property agency to work up sector-specific detail.”


Qualifications: “In the new regime, every property agency should be responsible for ensuring their staff are trained to the appropriate level and clear oversight arrangements are in place for junior staff. To ensure levels of qualification are appropriate yet proportionate, the working group recommend that licensed agents should be qualified to a minimum of level 3 of Ofqual’s Regulated Qualification Framework; company directors and managing agents should be qualified to a minimum of level 4 in most cases.”

The new regulator will be expected to develop a system of qualification quality control.


Leasehold and freehold charges: “The new regulator should be given a statutory duty to ensure transparency of leaseholder and freeholder charges, and should work with the sector (property agents, developers and consumers) to draw up the detail of the regulatory codes to underpin this aim as it applies to property agents … We recommend that the new regulator takes over from the First-tier Tribunal the power to block a landlord’s chosen managing agent where the leaseholders have reasonably exercised a veto. We also recommend that the new regulator provides information on managing agent performance to allow landlord freeholders - and where relevant, leaseholders - to make an informed choice of managing agent.”


Assurance and enforcement: “We recommend that the new regulator should have a range of options for enforcement action according to the seriousness of the infringement and how regularly it has occurred. These options should range from agreeing remedial actions and issuing warnings up to the revocation of licences and prosecutions for unlicensed practice.”

“The new regulator and other bodies (such as Trading Standards and redress schemes) will need to share information and work together effectively. There should be a system of flexible working between the new regulator and Trading Standards teams, and the new regulator should set out guidance clarifying their own and Trading Standards’ roles with regards to enforcement action to avoid duplication.”

You can read the full RoPA report here.

  • jeremy clarke

    Another brown noser seeking attention of the new government.

    Kristjan Byfield

    Sorry, how is voicing disappointment in the political spectrum brown nosing!? Bizarre comment.

  • icon

    I have never heard of Inventory Base so this appears to be a sad attempt at free publicity or, as Jeremy says, another brown noser. 🤔

    Kristjan Byfield

    Some basic online research would have easily avoided such a naive comment. Is there anything you're not annoyed about?


    Well, Kristjan, you certainly annoy me. Who are you to tell me my comment is naive or that I should reserach this person. I note she is the ONLY person to like your comments. Please kepp your nose, whatever colour it is, OUT OF MY BUSINESS. Nobody died and made you God.

  • icon

    I have read more common sense articles in the Viz magazine

  • icon

    Never heard of inventorybase ??? Sián Hemming-Metcalfe as a Ambassador of Propertymark is not a MP nor a Member of Government, should worry about her own business regulation and not tell others how to regulate their businesses, I am full on in my business , not got time to do level 3 or 4 exams to suit propertymarks greed for more fees....Good agents have enough regulation to cope with....

    Kristjan Byfield

    Regulation, Ian, is about supporting agents that do the good work, eliminating those that don't- meaning bigger slices of pie. There are also arguments that professionalising our industry can potentially lead to higher fees and revenue and, who knows, even an improved public image and reputation.
    Sian's has incredible knowledge of our industry, sector and the forces that impact it and inventorybase has been a major supplier partner to the PRS for nearly a decade.


Please login to comment

MovePal MovePal MovePal
sign up