Government to consider regulation of lettings industry
A new governmental working group charged with raising standards across the housing sector will be set up, Housing Minister Heather Wheeler has announced.
It will look at ways to improve standards for home buyers, sellers, tenants, landlords and leaseholders, and will be headed up by Lord Best, an independent cross-bencher, supported by bodies including ARLA Propertymark and Citizens Advice.
An ARLA spokesperson said: “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 boost the reputation of the industry, making it more akin to the legal or accounting professions.”
ARLA Propertymark and NAEA Propertymark have been lobbying Government for years for a fully regulated industry and have been instrumental in persuading the Government to take action, the spokesperson added.
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, as well as a single, mandatory and legally-enforceable Code of Practice for letting and managing agents, and whether a similar model could be provided for estate agents.
It will also scrutinise a system of minimum entry requirements and continuing professional development for letting, managing and estate agents, and a standardised approach for presenting transparent service charges to leaseholders and freeholders.
It will consider an easier statutory-backed process for consumers to challenge unfair service charges and whether other fees and charges which affect both leaseholders and freeholders are justified; should be capped or banned.
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.”
The group will report back to government in the summer of 2019.