Tuesday 23rd March 2021
Our webinar last week on the regulation of property agents, proved to be extremely popular and attracted a good deal of questions and comments from the participants.
Tracey Hartley of The Howard de Waldon Estate was joined by Sean Hooker of The Property Redress Scheme, one of the two Government authorised complaints services, that property agents are mandated to join in England and Wales. So what was discussed and what did we learn?
The question and answer session was a rapid fire session covering a wide ranging discussion on the thorny issue of regulation. Here is a quick taster of what hot topics were raised.
To B2R or Not to B2R – That is the question. Landlords or Agents? Will Build to Rent operators need to comply?
UKAA member were keen to know where the sector fits into the grand scheme of things. Sean and Tracey pointed out that B2R falls in between the definition of agent and landlord as many B2R operators do some of the tasks a property manager does. RoPA does not include landlords so may not have B2R, however with close to 185,000 units either built, under construction or planned should they be on the radar?
Why, What and When?
Following the publishing of the Regulation of Property Agents (RoPA) report by the working group chaired by Lord Best, the Government has promised reform but little has on the surface emerged in terms of action. Elections and lockdown have appeared to stall the process but Sean explained that a lot was going on behind the scenes.
Sean and Tracey probed the political and industry demands for regulation and when this could happen. How has Covid affected the implementation? Are we currently at Ground Zero? The pair explained that whilst the powers that be may have retreated in their bunker, the industry has been pushing on with a lot of work on a voluntary basis.
Education, Education, Education.
Mandatory qualifications is the first pillar of regulation, what is proposed and how would it work? Concerns from participant on the cost and burden of training were discussed and whilst this part of the session raised more questions than answers the importance of this to the sector was not in doubt. The perennial debate over experience over exams was discussed and whether “grandparenting” would be allowed leading to exemptions based on existing knowledge and training.
Follow the Code.
The second pillar with of regulation will be a mandatory codes. What will this look like? Tracey and Sean explained the work that has been done by the property sector in terms of a voluntary code. At the moment the plan is to have an overarching code that covers all sectors and underlying sector codes for the different types of agent. Tracey explained the hokey cokey over whether B2R will have its own a sector code following her work as part of the property management part of the group. Sean explains why he wants to see a wider remit for the code and regulator, including rent to rent and eventually all landlords.
A Register and Regulator
The third pillar and one that only the Government are in position to deliver. Powers, costs and teeth are the key and Tracey was keen to raise her favourite bug bear of enforcement or rather the lack of it,
The proof of the pudding will be in the eating but the project will stand or fall on whether the sector sees the effective action against the bad operators and the criminal element. No doubt this is not the last we will hear about this subject and watch out for future webinars as and when we learn more and action is taken to make this all a reality.