Government announced on the first of April (and it was not an April Fools joke) its response to recent consultations on industry regulation and Client Money Protection in England. If passed, the new measures will mean that agents will be required to adhere to a new Code of Practice and obtain a nationally recognised qualification, with at least one person in every organisation required to have a higher qualification.
A new independent regulator will have responsibility for agents’ working practices, with enforcement powers to deal with rogue agents. There may also be criminal sanctions for those who severely breach the code.
Other proposals include support for leaseholders to challenge service charges that they feel to be unfair and switch their managing agent.
The new Code of Practice will be developed by a working group comprising representatives of letting, managing and estate agents, along with tenants and regulation experts.
David Cox, Chief Executive, ARLA Propertymark comments:
“We are hugely supportive of these proposals. After 20 years of campaigning, the Government has finally listened to our call for proper regulation of the industry.
“For the last two decades, successive Governments have passed significant amounts of complex legislation on landlords; none of which have been properly policed or adequately enforced. These announcements demonstrate a very sensible shift towards focusing on the root cause of the issues affecting the sector rather than trying to find legislative solutions to individual problems.
“For landlords, their rental property is usually their biggest asset after the home in which they live; and for tenants, it’s their home. It must be the right of every landlord and every tenant to have a letting agent who knows what they are doing, is professionally qualified and the money they entrust to their agent is protected. This is a huge step towards creating a level playing field across the industry, and we look forward to working with the Government on this.”