The report by the working group on the Regulation of Property Agents (ROPA) proposes a single, mandatory and legally enforceable Code of Practice for property agents; a system of minimum entry requirements and continuing professional development for property agents. The industry response so far is extremely positive.
Lord Best, who chaired the ROPA working group, said, “These recommendations could lead to some agencies closing but would ultimately create a better industry. There is evidence that greater regulation, monitoring and increased fairness has improved the stability of the sector.”
Peter Bolton King, Global Standards Director, RICS said, on Twitter, “For years I’ve called for better regulation of agents + minimum standards. Delighted to see important report from Lord Best.”
His comments were responded to by Cllr Charles Fyfield, who said, “The solution has been sitting on the Statute Books for 40 years – s.22 of the Estate Agency Act 1979. I need a Licence to run my Church Lottery to sell you a £1 ticket but I don’t need a Licence to sell you a £1m house.”
The report also aims to explore fees, charges and the ability to choose a managing agent for leaseholders and freeholders. “These proposals are both welcome and long overdue if the rest of the UK is to be brought into line with the Scottish system”, says David Alexander, Joint MD at the Scottish property firm Apropos by DJ Alexander. “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.”
Mark Hayward, Chief Executive, NAEA Propertymark and David Cox, Chief Executive, ARLA Propertymark said, “This is a significant moment for those in the property industry and a huge leap forward in stamping out bad practice.
We have long called for Government intervention to ensure everyone in the industry is licensed, adheres to a strict code of practice and holds at least a Level 3 qualification (A-level). Following the extensive considerations by the working group, it is now for Government to create the structures for a properly regulated industry, whose professional knowledge and skills are trusted and respected by all.”
Isobel Thomson, Chief Executive, safeagent said, “We welcome and congratulate Lord Best for this wide-ranging report setting out a blueprint for a professional regulated property sector which, if fully implemented, would ultimately offer consumers the same level of protection they already experience in other areas of their everyday lives.
“We provided input to the RoPA working group supporting plans for minimum qualifications for agents in England. We are pleased that there is recognition that any new regulator should consider supporting qualifications and training providers to use e-learning which safeagent has championed as the accessible and cost effective route for agents to obtain professional development.”
David Alexander added, “These increasing failure rates in the English sector are occurring before the impact of the Tenants Fees Act, or the proposed ending of no-fault evictions and open-ended tenancies have come into place. 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. Those who aren’t prepared are undoubtedly going to face financial difficulties in adapting to the new way of operating.”
Read more about ROPA.