The much anticipated code of conduct for the property industry which will raise industry standards, protect residential consumers and make it much harder for cowboys to operate is to be ready by the end of the year, it has been announced.
A Code of Practice Steering Group has been set up under the auspices of RICS and TPO following a report by the working group on the Regulation of Property Agents (ROPA), which was published last summer.
It recommended developing a single, high-level set of principles in a code that would apply to all residential property agents, along with the setting up of a new regulator and mandatory qualifications for those working in the industry.
In what will be the greatest change for the sector since the Estate Agency Act was passed in 1979, the new code will cover all aspects of residential property with detailed sections to cover sales, lettings and management.
The steering group, made up of consumer and sector representatives, promises to look for more input from users, professionals, buyers, sellers, lenders, tenants and landlords when the draft goes out for consultation later this month. The code is set to be published by the end of 2020.
Its chair, Baroness Hayter (pictured, above) has previously worked as chair of the property standards board.
She says: “The forthcoming combined code will ensure that consumers are clear what standards they should expect from property professionals, and it will enable them to be confident that all residential property agents will be held to account in meeting them. It will raise standards and trust in the industry.”
The ROPA report recommended that a new regulator should have a range of powers ranging from a rap on the knuckles to being able to suspend or close a business and even prosecute it.
Meanwhile, a new agents’ licensing scheme would make every name available on a public online register where potential customers could check if a company is trading legally.
Housing Minister Christopher Pincher MP says: “Baroness Hayter’s appointment is an important development for property agents as they further raise standards in their industry and protect their customers. I look forward to continuing to work with all to ensure customers are treated fairly and that all agents work to the same high standards.”