People buying or selling property in Scotland would be better protected if the regulation of estate agency was devolved to the Scottish Parliament, says the Law Society of Scotland.
The society says the Scotland Bill currently going through the UK Parliament should be amended to deliver this.
“Conveyancing law and the property market in Scotland operate quite differently from the rest of the UK. There is also a far greater practice of solicitors carrying out estate agency work, providing an integrated service to those with property to sell or rent” says a society spokeswoman, Christine McLintock.
“By devolving the regulation of estate agency, the Scottish Parliament could create law which is more closely aligned to the Scottish legal system and better protect the needs of Scottish consumers” she claims. The society also argues that devolving estate agency could help avoid unnecessary bureaucracy.
“Legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2010 allows for new forms of solicitor and non-solicitor owned legal practices. We hope to become a regulator of these new firms by the end of this year” says McLintock.
“However, the 2010 Act was unable to allow approved regulators of these new providers to regulate their estate agency work alongside legal services. It means these new providers would be regulated by one regulator for legal services and regulated by another for their estate agency work. This all risks unnecessary bureaucracy” she adds.
The society says that by devolving the regulation of estate agency to the Scottish Parliament, the law could be more easily changed to allow the same regulator to regulate estate agency and legal services, like conveyancing, on a more consistent basis.