The government has just published proposals for far-reaching changes to the way estate and letting agents are regulated, trained and licensed.
The proposals have come from the Regulation of Property Agents working party, set up last year by the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government.
Although at this point they are proposals, it is likely to form the basis of legislation in the near future, with the working party’s chairman, Lord Richard Best, announcing that one of the key proposals - a new regulator is likely to be achieved within two years.
Other key points from the 54 page document include a proposal that anyone carrying out property agency work is regulated, from auctioneers to online agents, and this requirement may be extended in the future to regulate landlords, freeholders and developers. It goes on to suggest that at least one person in the company should be pass a ‘fit-and-proper person test’.
Sensibly, the proposal recommends that the very recent legislation that landlords and agencies are part of a property agent redress and client money protection schemes should be included in the responsibilities for the new regulator, as well as giving them the power to consider complaints from all sources.
A strong code of practice and appropriate qualifications for property agency staff are also included in the scheme.
Gerry Mason-Rolls from James Peacock Property has been pushing for the industry to be more professional for several years, so welcomes the proposals wholeheartedly. She warns though of not extending the new regulations to govern landlords at the time of roll out.
“Sadly, there are still too many people who suffer at the hands of landlords who don’t care about either their property, or their tenant welfare. By excluding them it will perpetuate the negative perception of renting and allow rogue landlords to continue to exploit vulnerable tenants.
We’ll be watching the roll out of the regulations with interest and keeping our community of tenants and landlords involved and informed”.