MINISTER: Regulation of estate agents ‘will not happen’

Baroness Swinburne tells fellow members of the Lords that there is no time for regulation of any kind, despite Lord Best's RoPA report having been published five years ago.

swinburne agent regulation

The Government has been heavily slammed for its foot-dragging on the long-promised regulation of estate agents during a stormy debate in the Lords after confirming no action is to be taken ‘in this parliament’.

It is now five years since the Tories said action would be taken to improve professionalism, stamp out rogue operators, set minimum levels of training and introduce agency licencing.

But following a question from Labour’s housing minister in the Lords, Lord Kennedy, on progress towards regulating estate agents, his Tory counterpart Baroness Swinbourne (pictured) said there was no ‘legislative time’ left to turn the proposals, which have been championed by Lord Best for years, into legislation.

During the debate Swinburne said she understood the frustration over her department’s inaction given cross-party and industry support for greater regulation, nevertheless all of those taking part made clear their anger that so little had been done in so much time.

“Reluctant, unenthusiastic, disinclined and unwilling

Kennedy set the tone, asking Swinburne: “What has the Government been doing for the last five years despite the issue having widespread agreement”, saying it looked like “Ministers were reluctant, unenthusiastic, disinclined and unwilling to address the issue” of agent regulation.

Lord Best

Lord Best also pointed out that a recent Lords’ scrutiny committee had also recommended a fully-fledged regulator for estate agents, and begged Swinburne to at last consider mandatory training levels for agents, a request she declined.

Former Labour Home Secretary Lord Blunkett summed the mood of the debate, saying: “Bad apples are giving legitimate agents a very bad name… why can’t the Minister just agree the necessary measures to put this right.”


Swinburne’s only concession was to promise that regulation would be ‘looked at’ as the Renters (Reform) Bill and the Leaseholder and Freehold Reform Bill, and that key recommendations from Lord Best’s 2019 report would be “taken forward”.

She also appeared to rebuff several sensible suggestions, including that Trading Standards’ estate and letting agent team be given greater powers, or that The Property Ombudsman’s existing codes be put on a legal footing.

Read the full text of Lord Best’s RoPA working group report.


  1. In principle I think having qualified estate agents with nationally recognised qualifications is a good idea.
    However keep a close eye on which members of the Lords (Or Commons for that matter) end up on the boards of the company selected to provide those recognised qualifications….
    The corruption runs deep. They take us for fools.

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