All news articles in date order - newest first.
Government is moving on its promise to regulate the agency and property management sectors and introduce a nationally recognised qualification. It has set up a Working Group, chaired by Lord Best, to raise standards across the property agent sector. It will consider the case for an independent property-agent regulator, together with a single, mandatory and legally-enforceable Code of Practice for letting and managing agents, and potentially estate agents too. A system of minimum entry requirements and continuing professional development for letting, managing and estate agents will be proposed.
IRPM have a seat on this working group and will work with government to raise standards and improve the way industry works. The public good is best served by having a competent, viable and ethical management sector delivering good service and outcomes for consumers while properly rewarding responsible agents who work to high standards and behave ethically.
The Working Group will also be considering a standardised approach for presenting transparent service charges to leaseholders and freeholders and an easier statutory-backed process for consumers to challenge unfair service charges. Managing agents should carefully note that the group are also to be asked whether other fees and charges which affect both leaseholders and freeholders are justified; should be capped or banned. IRPM caution that the minority of agents that charge excessive fees for replies to enquiries, consents, etc. must learn from the example of the lettings industry, where excessive fees have caused government to simply ban all tenants’ fees outright. Andrew Bulmer, CEO of IRPM, warns “agents that abuse their position by charging excessively for their work are not just in breach of the RICS Service Charge (Residential) Management Code, but also run a very high risk of forcing the hand of government to take away reasonable fees from good agents. In short, play fair on fees or lose them.”
The MHCLG press release is below in full.
HOUSING EXPERTS JOIN FORCES TO BOOST PROPERTY AGENT STANDARDS
Plans to raise standards across the entire property agent sector so home buyers, sellers, tenants, landlords and leaseholders receive the best service possible have been announced today (Friday 12 October) by Housing Minister Heather Wheeler MP.
A new working group, chaired by Lord Best, and made up of experts from across the property sector will consider options. This will include the case for regulation and the introduction of mandatory qualifications for all property agents so tenants, homebuyers and sellers can be confident they are getting a professional service and are being charged fairly.
At the moment, anyone can operate as a property agent without any qualifications or professional oversight. Many take a professional approach and sign up to standards of practice through membership of a professional body, but others do not.
The working group will consider the entire property agent sector to ensure any new framework, including any professional qualifications requirements, a Code of Practice, and a proposed independent regulator, is consistent across letting, managing and estate agents.
Speaking following the announcement, Housing Minister, Heather Wheeler MP said:
“For too long, many people have faced incurring fees and bad service from a number of property agents. People should have confidence when buying, selling or renting a home.”
“Lord Best’s wealth of knowledge will provide a valuable insight and help us make necessary changes to ensure consumers have confidence when buying, selling, letting or renting their home.”
Lord Best will be joined by representatives of agents and consumers, as well as independent experts, with the group instructed to report back to Government in summer 2019.
Lord Best said:
“There have been calls for tighter, fairer regulation of property agents from those representing tenants, landlords and agents themselves.
“I am delighted to work with government, industry and consumers to advise on how we can accomplish this in practice, and I look forward to our working group achieving real progress together.”
Other members of the group include representatives from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the National Landlord Association, Citizens Advice, the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA Propertymark) and the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA Propertymark). This is to ensure the entire sector is represented and the needs of both businesses and consumers are considered.