Propertymark Calls On UK Government To Get On With Agent Regulation

Propertymark’s long-held position is that without minimum entry requirements to practice, consumers are potentially dealing with someone who does not understand the technicalities involved in buying, selling, and renting property or understand how to analyse the level of risk to their business.

Consequently, it comes as little surprise that the professional body is once again calling on the government to ensure agents are suitably qualified and meet minimum competency standards as the organisation views this as an essential factor in driving up standards of service for consumers and eliminating bad practices in the sector.

Propertymark believes that now is the UK government’s best opportunity to enact the Regulation of Property Agents (RoPA) 2019 by creating qualifications for lettings agents in England.

Henry Griffith, policy and campaigns officer at Propertymark, said: “If Mr Gove [housing secretary] is serious about improving standards throughout the housing sector in general, then he must ensure that private tenants receive the same protections that social tenants do by enacting the Regulation of Property Agents Working Group’s recommendations from 2019. This will ensure that standards are raised throughout the housing market and ensure that anyone who is dealing with the complexities of housing legislation is appropriately qualified to do so.”

Propertymark also said it wants to see ‘parity’ between the social and private rented sectors regarding qualification requirements to work in either sector.

In February 2023, the UK government announced that social housing managers must acquire professional qualifications under fresh guidance to safeguard residents and boost standards in the sector. Specifics behind this were laid out via a public consultation that closed in April 2024.

This announcement is in response to tragedies like the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017 and the death of Awaab Ishak in 2020, which have led Michael Gove to consider using his powers under section 197 of the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 to boost standards in social housing.

The professional body responded to a consultation this month to seek opinions on implementing new qualifications and standards for senior staff and a new Competence and Conduct Standard for all staff which will consist of expectations to acquire skills and knowledge in order to meet fresh standards.

However, due to the fact that there is no overall statutory regulation of private sector letting or managing agents in England or estate agents throughout the UK, Propertymark points out that anybody can become an estate or letting agent without a professional qualification or any knowledge of how the housing sector in general operates, and they face limited consequences for providing a terrible service.

Therefore, Propertymark argues that, considering Gove values the benefits of qualifications and the desire for efficient standards in the social housing sector, Gove’s proposals for the social sector should be extended to the private rented sector as well. This would ensure that all staff providing housing services to tenants will benefit from extra training and qualification requirements via a phased approach that would ensure they are working towards higher standards.

Propertymark supports the recommendations made by Lord Best’s Regulation of Property Agents Working Group in 2019, such as all property agents should be licensed and adhere to a Code of Practice, and that they should hold at least a Level 3 qualification. The professional body’s views on this issue were communicated by Timothy Douglas, Propertymark’s Head of Policy and Campaigns, on 5 March 2024 during a House of Lords Industry and Regulators Committee meeting.

Those who work in lettings, sales, commercial, auctioneering, inventory and tenancy deposit can gain qualifications through Propertymark’s independent and awarding organisation called Propertymark Qualifications. This body is recognised by the Office of the Qualifications and Examinations Regulator (Ofqual), Qualifications Wales and the Council for Curriculum, Assessment and Examinations (CCEA Regulation). They also provide credit and level rated qualifications in the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework.

This position is backed up by a review of the introduction of qualification requirements in Scotland, which can be read here. Compulsory qualification requirements for lettings agents in Scotland has led to substantial improvements in professional standards throughout the sector, the professional body urged Gove to learn from Scotland’s experience when implementing qualifications for England’s social housing sector.

Daily news email from EYE

Enter your email below to receive the latest news each morning direct to your inbox.