Working Group created as next move towards regulation of estate agents in Britain

A new working group has been created to boost standards among estate agents in Britain which has the power to make recommendations to support buyers, sellers, landlords, leaseholders and tenants.

Chaired by Lord Best, the group is made up of representatives of agents and consumers, as well as independent experts from across the property sector and will report its findings to the Government by the summer of 2019.?

It examine the case for regulation and the introduction of mandatory qualifications for all property agents so tenants, home buyers and sellers can be confident they are getting a professional service and are being charged fairly.

Announcing the launch of the group, Housing Minister Heather Wheeler, pointed out that at the moment, anyone can operate as a property agent without any qualifications or professional oversight.

She explained that while many take a professional approach and sign up to standards of practice through membership of a professional body, others do not and the working group will consider the entire property agent sector to ensure any new framework, including any professional qualifications requirements, a Code of Practice, and a proposed independent regulator, is consistent across letting, managing and estate agents.

‘For too long, many people have faced incurring fees and bad service from a number of property agents. People should have confidence when buying, selling or renting a home.
Lord Best’s wealth of knowledge will provide a valuable insight and help us make necessary changes to ensure consumers have confidence when buying, selling, letting or renting their home,’ she said.

Members of the group include representatives from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the National Landlords Association (NLA), Citizens Advice, the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) and the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA).

There are indications that the industry will welcome official regulation of estate agents. According to Richard Lambert, NLA chief executive officer, a lack of consistency across the sector means that unregistered agents can take advantage of landlords and tenants, with little course for redress.

‘The different roles of estate, letting and managing agents can also prove confusing, and consistency of requirements across all three areas will be welcome. We hope this is the first step in creating a housing strategy that takes every aspect of the sector into consideration, rather than compartmentalising the individual issues,’ he said.

The estate agency sector has been crying out for an official form of regulation for far too long now,’ according to Russell Quirk, chief executive officer of Emoov.

‘The introduction of a regulator and a clear set of entry level qualifications should purge the sector of the rogue agents, whose poor practices have resulted in such a negative public perception of the sector,’ he pointed out.

‘It’s also encouraging to see that the new working group will consist of actual experts from across the property sector, rather than box ticking politicians with little idea on how to better the industry,’ he added.