The Government has convened a new working group that will consider how to improve professional standards among estate agents and report back to ministers next year, most likely in late August.
Chaired by social housing activist peer Lord Best, it is to consider greater regulation of agents including setting minimum levels of qualification for staff, a Code of Practice and an independent regulator for sales, letting and managing agents.
“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,” says Housing Minister Heather Wheeler.
The working group will include representatives of both the industry and consumers including RICS, the NLA, Citizens Advice, ARLA and the NAEA.
Jon Werth, MD of LiFE Residential
“It’s not a new thing that government or industry bodies are trying to raise standards for those dealing in this sector. It’s been happening for years, certainly since the eighties, and the improvements are vast, but it takes time and does cost more than ever to implement.
“Ideas for minimum standard qualification along with regulatory body memberships must be welcomed by all serious professionals working today in UK property, but the challenge is getting it out there in the public domain. The majority of our staff at LiFE Residential are all NFOPP trained and qualified, but if you tell that to our Landlords or Tenants, they just don’t know what that means. Awareness is key.
“Processes are improving all the time, but sales still take as long, if not longer than it did 10 years ago.
Rental processes are far quicker, more efficient and much clearer. Protecting the under privileged, those on lower incomes and those at risk are so important, but the ways to do this may not be aligned with the needs of many others.
“I would hope that price points for both lettings and sales will be taken in to account in order for the right rules to apply to the right people.”
Chris Wood, MD of PDQ Estates
“The welcome, if long overdue, news that the government is going to set minimum standards of competence and knowledge for anyone advising the public on the marketing, likely value and negotiation of what is usually their largest asset has to be tempered with caution that it is implemented and policed properly.
“The current set up has failed everyone except those who know they can and seek to get away with deceiving the public and riding roughshod over the law with impunity and have been doing so for years.
“There is no joined up or effective regulation or system for complaint however, the government must either create and resource a single statutory and fully accountable, transparent government body or ensure it does not unwittingly hand an effective state monopoly to organisations who have singularly failed consumers and the industry for years and are subject to questionable business practices of their own.”
Jon Notley, CEO of ZeroDeposit
“There are many thousands of professional and passionate agents around the country who are working hard for landlords and tenants every day, performing an essential role in the rental market,” he says.
“It is a shame that the practices of a relatively small number of shoddy operators do so much damage to the reputation of the industry as a whole.
Implemented sensibly, regulation could provide a useful framework and help to reinforce the high standards that most agents operate to.
“However, I would urge politicians to bear in mind the pressures already on letting agents in a tough market and with the fees ban looming, not to make life unnecessarily difficult for them by imposing an overly bureaucratic and costly regime.”
Mal McCallion, of newly-launched agency network Movenation
“We believe that every agent – whether self-service or full-service – should be regulated; that every consumer should be given a clear, educated choice; and that our agent partners should adhere to the highest standards and be seen as a beacon of propriety in their local market.
Sheraz Dar, CEO of CreditLadder
“We encourage Lord Best and the working party to engage a range of businesses in this debate but we support any initiative that looks to raise standards across the property sector, as we believe this will ensure all sides of the equation; agents, landlords and tenants will benefit.”
Read more about the increasing regulation of the estate agent industry.