Government moves a step closer to full regulation of the industry

The Country House Company has always been passionate about the importance of regulating the industry, so it came as a relief to hear that Housing Minister, Heather Wheeler has announced that a new working group will be set up, tasked with raising standards across the housing sector.

The working group will be headed up by Lord Best, an independent cross bencher, supported by professional bodies including ARLA Propertymark and consumer groups such as Citizens Advice. The group will look at ways to improve standards for home buyers, sellers, tenants, landlords and leaseholders.

At the moment anyone can operate as a property agent, although lettings professionals can set themselves apart from the competition by joining a membership organisation such as ARLA Propertymark. In doing so, they agree to abide by a Code of Practice and provide greater protection for tenants and landlords, including Client Money Protection and belonging to a redress scheme.

The Regulating Property Agents Working Group will be tasked with considering the case for a fully regulated industry, including mandatory qualifications for all property agents and will work towards a new framework which will be consistent across letting agents, managing agents and estate agents. Full regulation would bring the industry up to the standards already attained by ARLA Propertymark Members, making it easier for the public to understand the level of professionalism and protection offered by those working in the housing sector. This would bring increased confidence among consumers and a boost the reputation of the industry, making it more akin to the legal or accounting professions.

The Country House Company is a member of ARLA Propertymark and NAEA Propertymark which have been lobbying Government for years for a fully regulated industry and have been instrumental in persuading the Government to take action.

The working group will look at:

  • a model for an independent property-agent regulator, including how it will operate and how it will enforce compliance.
  • a single, mandatory and legally-enforceable Code of Practice for letting and managing agents, and whether similar could be provided for estate agents.
  • a system of minimum entry requirements and continuing professional development for letting, managing and estate agents.
  • a standardised approach for presenting transparent service charges?to leaseholders and freeholders.
  • an easier statutory-backed process for consumers to challenge unfair service charges.
  • whether other fees and charges which affect both leaseholders and freeholders are justified; should be capped or banned.
  • further measures to professionalise estate agency.

Mark Hayward, Chief Executive of NAEA Propertymark said: “We have been working closely with government since the announcement of the Regulating Property Agents Working Group. We are pleased to see that this has been now set up and look forward to progressing this in the interests of all parties”.

Sue Crossley, founding partner of The Country House Company commented: “There is a considerable amount of legislation that has to be dealt with by landlords and agents. Some of this legislation is for the good of the industry and the introduction of mandatory qualifications, greater transparency and more accountability is to be encouraged and supported across the industry. We are professional, qualified and are members of ARLA Propertymark, and looking forward to other agents having to reach the same standard.”

For full details on The Country House Company please call Marishelle Gibson on 02392 632275. For full details on ARLA Propertymark see www.arla.co.uk  .

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