Regulation of Property Agents Working Group (R0PA) report to Government
The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has released a report on the recommendations of the Regulation of Property Agents Working Group (RoPA) proposing a new regulatory framework to cover estate agents across the UK and letting and managing agents in England only.
The report comes as part of work to raise professional standards in the industry and includes the recommendation that all agents hold a minimum Level 3 Qualification to meet the standards of regulation.
Housing Minister, Heather Wheeler MP, set up the working group in October 2018 and appointed Lord Richard Best as Chair. ARLA Propertymark and NAEA Propertymark have been part of the small group of industry stakeholders which has examined several key industry issues including regulation and qualification. We have campaigned for higher professional standards in the industry for many years. It is vital that consumers have confidence in the agent that is providing them with information and dealing with each stage of their transaction.
Recommendations in the report
- Propertymark has long called for Government intervention to ensure everyone in the industry is licensed, adheres to a strict code of practice and holds at least a Level 3 qualification (the level equivalent to an A-level). It offers huge potential to stamp out bad practice and raise professional standards.
- The working group has proposed a new regulatory framework to cover estate agents in the UK and letting and managing agents in England only.
- The working group has recommended in their report:
- All agencies operating a residential property business should be licensed and licensing should include a fit and proper person test
- All customer facing staff employed within residential agency business should be licensed and adhere to a Code of Practice
- All customer facing staff employed within residential agency business should hold a qualification at Level 3, preferably with directors qualified to Level 4
- A new regulator be appointed to oversee compliance with an overarching Code of Practice
Firms and individuals
Only individuals can hold qualifications and the working group recognised that not every employee of an agency is a property agent. It has been recommended that Government create a list of ‘reserved activities’ – activities which can only be performed by a licensed individual at a regulated firm.
It is recommended that every property agency be responsible for ensuring their staff are trained to the appropriate level and clear oversight arrangements are in place for junior staff. The regulator will impose continuing professional development requirements on licensed agents.
Mark Hayward, Chief Executive, NAEA Propertymark and David Cox, Chief Executive, ARLA Propertymark comment on the final report from the Regulation of Property Agents (RoPA) working group:
“This is a significant moment for those in the property industry and a huge leap forward in stamping out bad practice. We have long called for Government intervention to ensure everyone in the industry is licensed, adheres to a strict code of practice and holds at least a Level 3 qualification (A-level). Following the extensive considerations by the working group, it is now for Government to create the structures for a properly regulated industry, whose professional knowledge and skills are trusted and respected by all.
These are substantial changes which will require agents to start making preparations now to ensure that they are well placed for when these proposed qualification requirements are introduced. While we anticipate that the need for property qualifications will be phased in, we advise agents to get ahead of the competition and to stand out by adopting the new requirements early. Propertymark can support you and your organisation both with getting qualified and preparing for regulation.”