The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) has recently published the Regulation of Property Agents: working group report. Said report proposes for a new regulatory framework for licensing, training, and regulating which includes lettings and sales, auctioneers, rent to rent providers, property guardians, international property agents, and online firms as part of the effort to improve professional standards in the industry. This will be overseen by a new regulator. Stipulations and roles for the new regulator is as follows:
* not a member of any existing body
* accountable to the secretary of state
* funded by the firms and individuals it regulates
* will have the power to appoint a single ombudsman if it believes this would be better than having “competing redress schemes”
*have the power to issue warnings, revoke licences and prosecute unlicensed practitioners
* check that an agent has fulfilled its legal obligations
The working group, currently chaired by Lord Best lists the following recommendations in the report:
* All agencies operating a residential property business should be licensed and licensing should include a fit and proper person test for company directors.
* All customer facing staff employed within residential agency business should be licensed and adhere to a Code of Practice.
* All customer-facing staff employed within residential agency business should hold a qualification at Level 3 or above.
* All company directors and management agents should be qualified to a minimum of Level 4.
* A new regulator to be appointed to oversee compliance with an overarching Code of Practice.
* Although still in its proposal stage, it is believed that they have already been signed off by the MHCLG and will most likely be the basis of future legislation.
Property agents are being counseled to place themselves way ahead of the competition by preparing early for the changes that are certain to come once the proposed reforms are introduced. Although not everyone is thrilled by the report, trade bodies and real estate agencies are quite happy and welcomes the proposed reforms.