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Guest blog: ‘You might not like it, but RoPA is good for us all’

Regulation is a force for good if it’s done well and will change public and media perceptions of agents, writes Glynis Frew, CEO, Hunters

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The inevitable election of Boris has understandably stolen the spotlight of late and many of my industry peers will be intrigued to see how his plans for the housing market pan out.

A lesser reported – at least for those working outside of property – but equally significant development in the marketplace was the set of recommendations laid out by the Regulation of Property Agents Working Group (RoPA) report.

First thing’s first: we can all agree that regulation is a force for good and we’ve been saying that for a long time. Honesty, integrity and a strict code of conduct must be at the core of any good industry. Ours is generally better than many in that sense. It has high expectations of itself when it comes to standards and procedure, despite what the media-charged public opinion says.

Introducing licenses might go some way in changing that perception. Consumers have a right to feel confident that they are being serviced within a strict moral and legal framework. After all, you wouldn’t employ an unlicensed accountant, would you? We’re also dealing with similar levels of responsibility in what we do.

The creation of a new regulator will take the lion’s share of the debate – especially on the funding side.

Why should I pay to right the wrongs of a rogue few, many will say.

It comes at a time when the market is stretched and bottom lines are under pressure. What does that mean for the independent? Whilst I have unwavering faith in its future, there is a strong case for additional government support when you account for further costs in compliance and training.

Nonetheless, agents will be pleased that the RoPA has recognised it’s enforcement that’s the real issue when it comes to regulation. By no stretch of the imagination is our industry light on laws and codes of practice that govern us.

Enforcement falls short

It’s just that Trading Standards and other enforcers often fall short when it comes to taking meaningful action. This means the small minority of rogue agents are able to get away with their malpractice that is used to tarnish our whole industry.

Our industry is generally one of decent and honest people. Hard workers who want to learn, too. Hunters is totally committed to training and has been running its own training academy since 2006, with a vocational HVQ launched in 2014.

One of our industry’s greatest strengths is its role in social mobility, offering employment and training opportunities to all walks of life, so the Level 3 requirement sets an important professional benchmark and is a worthy reminder that you don’t need to go to college or university to excel in a professional career.

Landlords had enough

The reduced discussion of landlords interested me. What does it mean for them? Maybe the RoPA has recognised that they have been through enough as it is! All jokes aside, the report claims the new procedures may be extended to landlords once it’s settled in with agents. Many will wonder why the delay? Safeguarding a level playing field is important and regulating half an industry seems as logical as regulating half a factory!

There are questions that need to be answered and the proposals will be met with varying degrees of enthusiasm. But one thing is clear: if done properly, it will only improve what is already an industry of good people.

Read more about how to prepare for Ropa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One comment

  1. I think RoPA was unfairly negative about the standard of estate agents, eg paragraph 13: “Trust in property agents remains low: for example, only 30% of respondents to an annual survey conducted in 2018 by the market research company Ipsos Mori agreed with the statement that they trusted ‘estate agents’ to tell the truth: this was less than half of the 62% who trust ‘the average person on the street’.” The problem with regulation – as we know in the legal sector – is it all depends on the regulatory body as to whether it ends up being a lot of useless bureaucracy that will only serve to line the pockets of those providing compulsory training and CPD. We are lucky to have a choice of regulator in conveyancing which is why we chose the specialist CLC over the heavily bureaucratic SRA. Muve is committed to helping our estate agent clients navigate regulatory changes and train their people. Just as we provide ID and AML services as part of our conveyancing partnerships with agents, we see this RoPA compliance as a natural extension of this. David Jabbari, CEO Muve (david.jabbari@muve.me.uk).

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