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Industry reaction: ‘Have ministers kicked RoPA into the long grass?’

Read one senior industry figure's reaction to our story that MHCLG was yesterday unable to confirm or deny that the proposals could take more than five years to become law.

Nigel Lewis

Link to Lettings feature

FIRST REACTION

“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.”

We said…

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.”

February 27, 2020

3 comments

  1. I know of two owners of lettings companies who have sold their businesses recently, contributing factors were the oncoming wave of red tape and issues such as RoPA, with a number of good staff some 30 years in the industry, they felt they had sufficient knowledge and skill set to run businesses without further qualifications.

    Though now no longer an active agent after 32 years of being one, and Never been a member of the NAEA and now having hundreds of estate agent clients, and having met thousands, I can honestly say that I can see no distinction between the two. On an unrelated point, and I missed the keynote speech, but I believe I was paraphrased by your leader who used the term dinosaur.

    Prompted by my Daily Telegraph article on Tuesday “wounded dinosaur looking for a home” a reference to countrywide. I am actually extremely supportive of bringing expertise and training and relevant proptech into both residential and commercial agency and the lettings industry, spending many hours weekly with CEOs in both camps and in the proptech world.

    My concern over Richard Best and his teams endeavours are that RoPA for some has been lauded as a certainty and it is not, whilst technology IS changing everything.

    I am the most pro-estate agency advocate and that includes lettings in the UK. But – technology 5G and the capabilities and new industries that brings is about to fling real estate into a new orbit. RoPA is a bit of a sideshow … and its slowness, and no reflection on Richard Best and his group, it is just caught up in the Whitehall red tape – meanwhile – people in their 20’s are revolutionising the agency space from the bottom up.

    Yourkeys are getting properties exchanged in 168 hours, from reservation – 7 days, Kristjan Byfield and many brilliant minds are working on proptech solutions for the lettings industry, other innovators such as Jonathan Stein – Vaboo are changing the relationship of tenants, Offr are making selling property seamless and quick – so whilst there are slow dinosaur like motions to modernise the industry.

    The quick footed, nimble, agile Gen-Z and younger millennials are reshaping the industry in leaps and bounds, not taking grinding years, but months even weeks to get real solutions which benefit rather than tie up the hands of estate agents who work so hard every day.

  2. I don’t think this is any surprise – we’ve never had any dates – just a willingness in all areas for it to happen. The Government are busy! But is has been great to start a really good industry debate about qualifications and training – which is long overdue.

  3. The public have a low opinion of the industry and delaying a requirement for higher standards, will not be giving out the right message. It could be organised relatively simply, by requiring membership of a professional body, such as NFOPP or ARLA, who would ensure a level of competence and quality assurance. All the Government needs to do is make this a requirement, together with a reasonable qualifying period, after which confirmation of membership by the respective institution, would be a requirement to practice. The handling, of what is for most people their greatest asset, deserves regulation.

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