Housing Minster Heather Wheeler has announced plans to raise standards across the property agent sector in England.
A working group chaired by Lord Best and made up of property experts across the property sector will consider options so that landlords and tenants, amongst others, receive the best service. The options likely to be considered are regulation and mandatory training in the hope that service levels are improved, and charges applied fairly.
Whilst it is acknowledged that some agents are voluntary members of a professional body there are concerns about those agents who elect not to be members which can lead to lower service standards. The working group will therefore consider any new framework for agents, along with professional qualification requirements, a code of practice, and a proposed independent regulator.
The working group will aim to advise the government on a new regulatory approach to letting, with a view to protecting the consumer. In particular, the working group will advise on:
- a model for an independent property-agent regulator, including how it will operate and how it will enforce compliance;
- a single, mandatory and legally-enforceable Code of Practice for letting agents;
- a system of minimum entry requirements and continuing professional development for letting agents; and
- any additional matters which in its opinion support the aims above.
Lord Best is reported to have 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.”
We have heard about the possible introduction of a mandatory professional membership for letting agents on many occasions. Certainly, the requirement for agents to join a client money protection scheme and other such changes are designed to improve the sector. Whilst any improvement is of course welcome the group is not expected to report its findings to the government until summer next year, suggesting that this will take some time yet.