And yet, it remains unimplemented while the same industry challenges stand fast. Two years on, here’s what we know.
The report’s aim is to eliminate bad practice from the industry
The report covered a number of recommendations to the government, with a focus on regulating letting and estate agents. Regulation, it advises, will help protect tenants and landlords from unprofessional, unqualified and unethical agents. The report covers topics and recommendations including:
how regulation might work and be enforced
a new licensing regime
introducing a code of practice
mandatory qualifications for agents
making leaseholder and freeholder service charges clearer
setting up a regulator
You can review the full Regulation of Property Agents report and recommendations here.
Proactive agents are already introducing recommendations from the report
The general consensus from agents and the government is that the recommendations are needed. In fact, some agents are already getting ahead of the game and signing up for qualifications that may become mandatory in the future. Since the report was published, over 13,500 professionals* have signed up to Propertymark Qualifications. Meanwhile, the amount of agents proactively joining increased by a third since April 2019* – presumably keen to get ahead of competitors and prove their expertise before it becomes a requirement.
Other issues make implementing the recommendations complicated
The government seems to agree that reform is needed, but a number of industry stories in the media at the moment make doing so complicated. There’s the post-Grenfell building safety legislation; the leasehold scandal; standards for new homes; and use of short-term lets. Arguably, streamlining a currently fragmented approach to legislation would help resolve these other areas. But for now, the report doesn’t seem to be their focus.
The recommendations are still as relevant in 2021 as they were in 2019
A previous report for the private rented sector back in 2009 made similar recommendations to RoPA’s 2019 working group. It included suggestions like qualifications, minimum standards and a national register of private landlords. Just as the requirement for reform hadn’t changed in the decade between reports, it hasn’t changed today.
There’s clearly an appetite for regulation, with an independent working group even coming together to work on an overarching code. And, as Propertymark’s policy manager Timothy Douglas says, while mandatory regulation comes with its own set of challenges and opportunities for agents, it remains ‘the quickest and most effective method to eliminate unprofessional, unqualified, and unethical agents from the sector.’
You can read more about RoPA’s proposal and what it could mean for agents here.