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‘RoPA remains only way to eliminate unprofessional, unqualified, and unethical agents’

Propertymark's policy manager marks the two year anniversary of the landmark - but so far un-implemented - Regulation of Property Agents report for Ministers.

Timothy Douglas

timothy propertymark ropa

Last month marked two years since the publication of the Regulation of Property Agents (RoPA) Working Group report.

The Group’s remit was to advise the UK Government on a new regulatory approach to letting, managing and estate agents. There are 53 recommendations and to date Ministers are still considering the report’s findings.

Despite questions from MPs and Lords and a polite nod being given to the report in a House of Commons Library research briefing paper released last weekend, the sector is still awaiting a green light as to what regulation of sales agents across the UK and letting agents in England will look like and when it may come into play.

However, there is huge support amongst professionals for regulation and requirements to practice.

Since 18 July 2019 Propertymark Qualifications has had 13,781 professionals apply to take a qualification, and the number of agents taking a Propertymark CMP scheme has increased by a third since April 2019. These are stats driven by proactive agents; agents who want the profession recognised for what it is – an expertise.

Fragmented

Whilst the RoPA Report is still being considered, the UK Government has recognised that reform is needed but is tackling issues with a fragmented approach to legislation; examples such as building safety legislation following the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower and reform to ground rents under the leasehold scandal as well as the use of short-term lets, and new homes standards which are increasingly coming under the spotlight.

But piecemeal legislation such as this is unmanageable and unenforceable, meaning it isn’t as effective as a joined-up approach.

Regulation of sales and managing agents would strengthen the action we are seeing in these areas, as would ensuring that letting agents and self-managing landlords are appropriately qualified and regulated to practice.

In 2009, the then Labour Government flirted with regulation and responded to the Rugg Review consultation on ‘The private rented sector: professionalism and quality’. This response spoke of qualifications, minimum standards, and a national register of private landlords –Déjà vu?

Solutions

The issues established in 2009 as solutions are still the solutions of today, only the sector has now grown, and legislation for the PRS in particular has increased significantly creating a disjointed and complex sector for both agents and consumers.

Regulation offers challenges and opportunities for agents, but Propertymark still feels that mandatory regulation of property agents is the quickest and most effective method to eliminate unprofessional, unqualified, and unethical agents from the sector.

The sector has come together, and an independent working group consulted on an overarching code, which is now awaiting adoption. Another demonstration of the industry appetite and something that should act as a catalyst for the UK Government to resume the focus and intent that it so admirably had when commissioning the original report and recommendations provided by Lord Best’s committee.

What’s key is that the UK Government now set the foundations for regulation and provide a framework for additional reform to future proof the sector.


Timothy Douglas (main pic) is Policy and Campaigns Manager, Propertymark

Read more about RoPA.

 

August 13, 2021

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