Regulation of Property agents

What RoPA means for you

In July 2019, a report was given to Government by the Regulation of Property Agents working group, outlining how letting and estate agents should be regulated in future. But what will this mean for landlords, tenants and homeowners?

What is RoPA?

It stands for Regulation of Property Agents. A group of professionals and businesses within the property industry came together, as the RoPA working group, to suggest to the Government how agents in the UK should be regulated by law.

Are agents not already regulated?

Not everywhere. In Scotland and Wales, letting agents must be licensed and qualified in order to legally do their job, but not in England or Northern Ireland. Estate agents in the UK do not have to be qualified or licensed and there is currently no legal regulation of them, meaning anyone can become an estate agent.

Propertymark regulates estate and letting agents who join our membership, but this is not a legal requirement. Our members also have to be qualified and legally compliant to join us, but that means there are still a lot of agents out there who aren’t qualified or compliant.

Why do the Government want to regulate agents now?

The Government received evidence from two consultations on Protecting consumers in the letting and managing agent market and for Improving the home buying and selling process. This was done to signal their intention to improve the consumer experience when buying, selling or renting property. Following this, the RoPA working group was convened by the Housing Minister to discuss how regulation might help make these improvements.

Regulation teamed with effective enforcement activity from authorities including Trading Standards would pressure rogue agents providing exploitative residential accommodation to leave the sector. The remaining agents would adhere to collective standards or risk being prevented from being an agent. This would mean that consumers would have a better experience when buying, selling or renting a property.

What will regulation look like?

The report recommends the creation of a new regulator, who will actively ensure that all agents follow the rules and do what is legally required of them. It also suggests that agents should have to get a sector specific qualification and follow a Code of Practice.

When will regulation happen?

There are no confirmed dates for when regulation will come into effect. Agents will need time to fully comply with any new regulations, such as studying and gaining a qualification, and a new regulator will need to be appointed.

What if my agent is breaking the law/providing bad customer service already?

If you have a complaint about your letting or estate agent now, you must follow their internal complaints procedure first, this should be available through their website. If they still haven’t resolved your complaint, you can progress to a redress scheme, all agents are legally required to belong to either the Property Ombudsman Ltd or Property Redress Scheme. If your issue still isn’t resolved and your agent offers Propertymark Protection, you can send your complaint to Propertymark.

What letting or estate agent should I use before regulation comes into effect?

All agents that display our logo, showing that they offer Propertymark Protection to consumers, have voluntarily chosen to be regulated to a high standard by Propertymark. Not only do they comply with all their legal requirements, such as being part of a redress scheme, protecting your deposit, holding professional indemnity insurance and holding valid client money protection, but they must also provide an independently inspected accountant’s report (if they handle client money) and adhere to an industry Code of Practice.

You can find an agent you can trust by using our free online search tool.

 

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Working in the industry?

If you are an estate or letting agent and want to know how the RoPA recommendations may affect you, visit our may RoPA page where we discuss the report in more detail and answer a number of frequently asked questions.

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