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Exclusive: Independent agents’ group to fight ‘poor industry image’

The Charter for Independent Estate and Letting Agents has told Estate Agent Today that it WILL formally launch after all, in April of next year.

CIELA has had a volatile existence for around 12 months - all within a period when it has not formally launched.

It’s founder, agency software entrepreneur Charlie Wright, now says that he has heard the views of “hundreds of agents” and has received “strong support” from industry suppliers.


Wright says: “CIELA aims to be the collective voice of the industry; so we looked past individual concerns that were not translatable to the greater group of independent agents.”

He says the primary concern among agents is the public’s general negative impression of the industry caused by “the illegal conduct of many small independent agents, compounded by the government’s failure to enforce existing laws and worsened by the failure of any existing organisation to take effective action.”

Despite a series of vehement attacks on online agencies in general and Purplebricks in particular, Wright now says: “What concerns independents most is not the online marketing giants such as Purplebricks. The greatest day-to-day concerns are with the sizeable minority of rogue agents who are either unintentionally or intentionally breaking the rules and engaging in sloppy conduct which falls short of minimum requirements.”

In characteristically colourful language, Wright has written to his supporters saying: “The conduct of this group [of rogue agents] is staining the entire industry. They are the biggest reason why fees are falling, often being the ones advertising the lowest fees, and why there is a palpable level of mistrust.”

He continues that to earn credibility and trust “the industry must be publicly seen to be cleaning up its act on its own, not waiting for further unwelcome, ill-conceived and unenforced government regulation.”

He says CIELA’s strategy will therefore seek to help the industry to clean up its act.

“CIELA will provide the whole industry with a completely free, easy way to highlight all legally-compliant agents in a publicly searchable way ... CIELA will be building the technology so that any agent, regardless of membership, size, or location, who is in compliance with mandatory regulations, will be able to prove their compliance and download a free certificate of integrity for their window and website, completely free of charge.”

He says the group will also look into developing a free and anonymous online system to report agents who are not following the regulations. 

“We will then privately offer the alleged offender the chance to show its proof of compliance. If any suspected agent does not provide proof of compliance when requested, we will submit our report to the relevant authority, including the police where criminal breaches occur.”

Wright - who has refused to say how many agents expressed support or paid to join CIELA earlier this year - now says: “Existing CIELA membership, while small, has been extremely supportive and patient. We will now be able to welcome more new members and the support of industry suppliers.

"From existing members, we will need continued and increased support in the drive for new member subscriptions.”

He says an increased in its current membership is required “to grow and expand the efforts to change public perception.”

He says to achieve its new objective CIELA needs to spend money on web developers, legal consulting, marketing fees, event coordinating, policy research and administration.

Poll: Is CIELA right - do some independent agents give the industry a poor image?


  • Carl Smales

    And what about the ‘large corporates’ that pay ‘listing bonus,’ encouraging their staff to overvalue and give the unsuspecting people bloc ‘false hope.’

    Only to be then asked to reduce their property price. (You don’t think that could be why the public miss trust us).

    If we have any hope at all of cleaning up our industry:

    Set a national percentage fee (that way you would choose the best agent and not the cheapest)

    Ban tie in periods ( this would force us all to ‘lift our game.’)

    Force agents to ‘wave their fee’ if the property sells for a specified (national percentage ) below the INITIAL listing price. (If you are an experienced agent with integrity, this shouldn’t concern you).
    I know some will say, ‘what about the vendor that insists on marketing their property higher than we have advised?’
    We are the professionals, we should be able to explain and advise the client why this is the wrong thing to do.
    If we all acted in the same way and gave the same advice, perhaps the vendor would listen.

    Have a fantastic day, unless you have other plans.


    Makes perfect sense. Keep shouting the same message...the Government are beginning to listen.

  • David Bennett

    Carl - written with passion, but so naive.

    Carl Smales

    I just live in hope David.

    I doubt my suggestions would ever come to fruition but you must admit if they did, we could turn the public’s view of our industry.

    I just get tired of ‘the small independents’ getting the blame. (I know there are some bad ones)
    But the large corporates do more than their fair share to bring our industry in to distribute.

    Happy days!

  • Simon Shinerock

    ‘If we all acted in the same way and gave the same advice, perhaps the vendor would listen’. ‘If’ the biggest little word in the English language. Charlie certainly successfully called out PB on a part of its advertising, however does that mean he will gain the support he needs to become an effective industry policeman, we shall see

  • icon

    Naive? But Carl is also correct (well I agree with him). At a guess CIELA is mainly aiming its brickbats at dodgy lettings activities. If so, there is hope that in a few months all Lettings work will start to be processed via licensed lettings agents only. It will take time to make that a reality but once it has happened should hugely sort out the rogues ... many of whom are not in fact agents but private landlords who have been able to get away with endless abuses for far too long.

  • Phil Hathway

    Price fixing/Cartels are illegal.

    David Bennett

    Absolutely Phil. Hence my 'naive' reference to Carl and now Michael. We live in a free market economy. It is how estate agents thrive! If they don't like it, try working in China, where everything is the same and controlled.


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