Propertymark welcomes House of Lords Industry and Regulators Committee’s call to regulate property agents

Propertymark has welcomed the House of Lords Industry and Regulators Committee’s call to regulate property agents.   

A letter was sent to Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities, published on 22nd March, from the committee.

It warned that tenants, leaseholders, and others are being affected by the UK Government’s stalling over this issue.   

On 5th March 2024, Timothy Douglas, head of policy and campaigns at Propertymark, represented members’ views on the desire for a code of practice, minimum qualifications, and licensing for estate agents across the UK and letting and managing agents in England.   

This is a central campaign and policy area for the professional body, in which it also played a key part in the Regulation of Property Agents Working Group that originally published its first report in 2019.  

Through recent evidence, the committee discovered that standards would be increased in the sector by a regulator responsible for enforcement against agents responsible for bad practice.

It also found that existing forms of enforcement and redress are limited in scope and that the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill must be supported by stronger regulation, as the legislation in its current form does not deal with the problems leaseholders experience.    

Therefore, the committee called for legislation to establish a new regulator, alongside mandatory qualifications for property agents, and codes of practice managed by the new regulator.

It also urged the Government to establish a Memorandum of Understanding to be agreed between the new regulator, National Trading Standards, and the redress scheme to create a more joined-up approach, ask the Government to legislate for statutory consumer representation and also appoint a single ombudsman for property agents.  

Timothy Douglas, head of policy and campaigns, said: “Propertymark welcomes the Committee’s findings and its recommendations for greater regulation of property agents.

“The inquiry highlights the importance of regulation and the need to improve consumer protections.

“It has also clarified the vital role that professional bodies currently play in providing qualifications and ensuring compliance with rules and regulations as well as taking action to drive up standards across the property sector.   

“As Propertymark made clear through the evidence provided to the Committee, it is vital that mandatory qualifications, a statutory code of practice and regulatory oversight exists through a new regulator to ensure compliance with new and impending legislation.

“The UK Government must not miss the opportunity to act on the recommendations of the Regulation of Property Agents Working Group and build in greater protections for consumers.

“Recent and proposed pieces of legislation for leasehold, renting and building safety are complex and need to be accompanied by overarching regulation that supports and promotes competent and professional property agents.”