Author : Mary-Anne Bowring
Last week we blogged about the likely regulation of property agents. Today it's official. Change is coming. And it should have a positive impact on the way the residential sector delivers services to our customers.
Lord Best has delivered the final report of the Regulation of Property Agents (RoPA) working group. This sets out ways to make property agents more effective, more profesional and more accountable to their clients. For some time, the government has been determined to regulate residential property agents, enforce a mandatory qualification and set out a new code of practice. This will now happen but it will take time. Setting the wheels of legislation in motion is rarely fast and with Brexit taking up parliamentary time, don't hold your breath! But there is now no doubt that regulation is on its way. The initiative has cross-party support and the public want to see change. R0PA report: In future, only qualified agents will be able to operate in the leasehold sector.
So what is being proposed First, the plans affect all residential agents. That means everyone working in sales, lettings and leasehold/block management and build-to-rent. In his report, Lord Best suggests a new regulator, accountable to the government and responsible for producing a new code of practice for all residential property agents. That means firms AND individuals. A list of reserved activities will also be produced and companies carrying out those activities must be regulated and have a licence to operate. Individuals will need a qualification and a licence to practice. The regulator will issue the licences. They can be taken away if businesses or individual property agents don't play by the rules.
Lord Best also proposes the new regulator should set the syllabus for a mandatory qualification and this should be approved by Ofqual. The suggestion is that sales and lettings agents be qualified to level 3 of Ofqual's Regulated Qualification Framework and block managers should be qualified to level 4. In English, level 3 is the equivalent of the IRPM's Associate qualification and level 4 equates to MIRPM. What all this means is that, as we speculated last week, some agents will need to upskill, while others will be granted a licence to practice based on their existing qualifications.
So now it's over to government to make this happen. Ultimately the aim is to protect consumers, support an ethical culture throughout the sector, and prevent bad practice. It's hard to argue with that!
Mary-Anne Bowring FIRPM FRICS FARLA FCABE Founder/Head of Asset Management
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