The Regulation of Property Agents working group released a report in mid-2019 with wide-ranging recommendations for regulating property agents.
The key recommendations for the sector were:
- Introducing a Code of Practice that all property agents would have to adhere to.
- Introducing minimum entry requirements for acting as a property agent, as well as continuing professional development.
- Introducing a new property-agent regulator that would enforce compliance with the new regulation.
Experts expect that the recommendations are several years away from becoming reality, however, proactive agents can start preparing for regulation now. ARLA CEO David Cox said the recommendation is that “agents operating in sales, lettings and auctioneering have a level three qualification, those in block management have a level four and the same for business owners and managers”.
Cox - speaking in a Goodlord webinar - suggested that letting agents who want to start preparing now should look at undertaking an OFQUAL-regulated level three qualification. “If you have got or are doing an OFQUAL regulated level three, you should be fine. You might have to do a top up module, which will probably be very low cost later down the line just to evidence that you have kept up to speed with the law - it might be CPD, it might be a questionnaire - we don't know yet. It's going to be set by the regulator,” says Cox. “You will need to prove that you've kept up to speed, like you would in any other industry.”
Looking further ahead, Cox suggested that, once it’s clear what the reserved activities will be, agencies will need to review how reserved activities are allocated within their businesses. “If your part-time staff are carrying out reserved activities, they will need to be qualified. But if they’re supporting the staff who are carrying out the reserved activities, they won’t need to be qualified,” he says. “You will need to be looking at how your business operates so that you don't have to get everybody qualified.”
Cox believes those agencies who “embrace these changes, that are planning for them, that are getting ahead of them, they are the ones that will survive, and in five years’ time some will have fallen by the wayside. For those that remain, I think they will be stronger, they will be better educated, their businesses will be better.”