United Kingdom

Regulation of Property Agents reappears in Parliament

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Could letting agents soon have to sign up to a Code of Practice, work with a new regulator, and even go back to school?

Published in 2019, the Regulation of Property Agents working group report recommended all these measures and more. While it was welcomed by the government, no progress has yet been made on getting it into law.

But that could all be about to change. Matthew Pennycook, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Housing and Planning, proposed an amendment to the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill that would require the government to implement the recommendations made in the RoPA report within 24 months. And at a meeting with The Lettings Industry Council, Lord Best, who chaired the RoPA working group, confirmed that the amendment had been added.

Do estate and letting agents want RoPA?

Opinions on RoPA are divided. According to Timothy Douglas, head of policy and campaigns at Propertymark, “it is really positive to see an amendment put forward to get the recommendations in Lord Best’s report… on the statute book”.

But figures inside and outside the property industry have criticised the RoPA proposal to require all agents to have at least one A Level, and agency directors to have a university degree. They argue that academic qualifications are less important for agents than specific training and on-the-job experience.

Will the amendment pass?

The Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill is very likely to pass. Leasehold reform was part of the government’s manifesto and is a clear political priority.

But the fate of the RoPA amendment is less certain. The Regulation of Property Agents report was released under Theresa May’s Conservative government, but to date has not been acted upon, and an opposition amendment may not receive enough support from MPs.

The next step for the bill is the report stage on 27 February, at which point MPs can debate any amendments made at committee stage.

However, if the RoPA amendment to the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill is rejected, that is unlikely to be the end of it. Labour has backed the recommendations of the RoPA report, and has pledged to Propertymark that they will sign them into law if they win the next election. Previous Conservative housing ministers have also said that the government is still considering the recommendations.

Other regulation headlines

Agents told ‘not to panic’ about material information regulation changes – Property Industry Eye

Huge number of rental licensing schemes set for 2024 – Letting Agent Today

News Analysis: Clampdown on conditional selling ‘is long overdue’ – Mortgage Strategy

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