“Introducing these regulations is long overdue and any delay has the potential to negatively impact upon the private rented sector (PRS),” says David Alexander, joint MD of property management company Apropos.
“The PRS requires greater regulation, more scrutiny, and increased transparency. The [Lord] Best proposals are both welcome and long overdue if the rest of the UK is to be brought into line with the Scottish system which already has better regulation, agent licensing, and qualifications for key decision makers.
“Those who fear such change should not be worried. Rather than destroying the sector in Scotland these changes have made it stronger and more effective.”
“The sector must understand that greater regulation is coming, and the best property management companies are already prepared and ready for the changes which will occur.
“For those who want to work in a well-regulated, fairer, and mutually beneficial system where the tenant, landlord and agent all work together then the introduction of greater regulation, appropriate qualifications for staff, and the licensing of agents will hold no fears because they realise that this is the right way forward. If the implementation of Lord Best is delayed this is a backward step at a time when the market needs to professionalise.”
The Regulation of Property Agents (RoPA) proposals that are so hotly debated in the industry may not see the light of day during this parliament as the government grapples with its detailed recommendations, the need for primary legislation to be framed, a busy parliament and Brexit.
That is the conclusion that most agents including several senior agency figures at this morning’s NAEA Propertymark conference in London took from Matt Prior, who represented the housing directorate of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government at the event.
One agency leader, who wished to remain anonymous, said ministers’ reluctance to prioritise RoPA would give the wrong message to the cowboys within the industry.
Pressed on stage this morning by the BBC’s Sally Bundock within a Q&A session on when ministers expect to turn Lord Best’s working group recommendations into legislation, Prior was unable to deny or confirm that RoPA would become a reality within five years.
The RoPA recommendations include the introduction of an industry-wide regulator with teeth, mandatory minimum qualifications for agents, leasehold reform and a licensing scheme for agencies enforceable with bans and fines.
“The thing to bear in mind is that RoPA is not a small undertaking and is not something you just do in half an hour and, although we do have five years [before the next election], we also have a lot of [other] legislation to get through,” says Prior (pictured left).
“It’s also about identifying when would be an appropriate time slot; as you may appreciate every government department comes forward with a list of things they want to do.
“It’s certainly on the priority list but where it sits on it, I don’t know.”