The government has published its proposals for a new independent regulatory body with mandatory qualifications and a code of practice, to oversee estate and letting agents. In its final report to government, the Regulation of Property Agents working group set out its advice on how the new approach should be implemented.
It is thought that the proposals have already been accepted by the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government, which initially set up the working party, and may be achieved within two years.
The report warns that the regulation of property agents should be regarded as a matter of great importance, particularly in that it could significantly improve the experience of people renting, letting and leasing, as well as home buyers and sellers.
The proposals introduce a new independent regulator who will oversee a new regulatory regime which could include auctioneers, property guardian companies, online agents, rent-to-rent companies and international property agents. The new regulatory regime would be binding on companies, as well as those who act as intermediaries in property transactions. However, it will not affect property portals, such as Zoopla or Rightmove, or the short-let sector, such as AirBnB.
Property agents would be licensed by the regulator who will be responsible for the statutory code of practice. Modular qualifications would be required for staff within the regulated companies, that would ensure agents were proficient in the aspects of their work that suited their role, subject to minimum requirements of at least level 3 of Ofqual’s Regulated Qualification Framework. More senior agents and company directors should achieve a minimum of level 4.
The new regulator would be responsible for enforcement with support from trading standards, redress schemes, and professional bodies.
An element of flexibility would allow the new regulator to expand its coverage in the future, perhaps to cover private landlords and developers who deal directly with property renters and buyers, or freeholders in the management of their leasehold properties.
Read the final report for plenty of details as well as all the recommendations made.