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Action must be taken now on regulation of property agents

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Propertymark has written to the Rt. Hon Michael Gove MP, to reiterate a longstanding call for regulation of property agents and outlined how this can support the delivery of the UK Government’s reforms.

Upcoming progress on both the Renters (Reform) Bill and the newly announced Freehold and Leasehold Reform Bill present ideal opportunities to legislate for the highest standards of practice in the sector, which will benefit both agents and consumers.

In February 2023, Mr Gove stated that all property managers in the social rented sector should be qualified, and Propertymark have urged him to extend this requirement to lettings, sales and managing agents in the private housing sector.

At the Labour Party Conference in October 2023, Matthew Pennycook MP, stated that if in government his party would introduce regulation as recommended by Lord Best in his 2019 report.

Timothy Douglas, Head of Policy and Campaigns at Propertymark, will again re-state the case for action when he gives evidence to the Renters Renters (Reform) Bill Committee on 14 November 2023.

Regulation offers huge potential to professionalise the sector. All property agents should be qualified to at least Level 3, carry out regular training, undertake Continuing Professional Development (CPD) each year, be members of a professional body and follow a code of practice.

Full mandatory government regulation of agents is the quickest and most effective method to eliminate unprofessional, unqualified, and unethical agents from the property sector.

Tenants should have parity of rights and protections and feel safe in the knowledge that their property manager is qualified and trained regardless of the tenure they rent.

Letting agents play a significant role in the private rented sector (PRS) – an estimated 46% of landlords use an agent who can carry out a variety of functions including inspections, notices, and the daily running and management of a property, as well as holding the vital relationship with the tenant. This could mean that potentially over two million households could be left uncovered by efforts to improve standards within the Private Rented Sector, if the focus on enforcement and new standards remains solely with landlords.

Currently, there are no barriers to entry to work within the property sector or even to belong to a professional membership body. This means varying levels of service, standards and application of new and existing laws and uncertainty amongst consumers about what they should expect from an agent.

With the introduction of the Building Safety Act 2022, and further reform expected from the Freehold and Leasehold Bill, homeowners living in a block of flats or purchasing a property to live in deserve to have access to qualified and trained estate and managing agents who can deliver the best standards of professional service.

Nathan Emerson, CEO of Propertymark comments: “Piecemeal legislation is unmanageable and unenforceable and there is no overarching regulation to ensure property agents meet basic competency standards.

The Renters (Reform) Bill provides an opportunity to introduce minimum qualification requirements and a statutory Code of Practices to be adhered to by all letting, managing and sales agents, professionalising the sector and giving consumers vital protections.”

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