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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Government unveils new body 'to raise agency standards'

The government has unveiled a new body which, it claims, will raise agency standards.

There is a long-standing commitment from the government to reform and further regulate agency - sales, lettings and management agents - but little action appeared to have been taken until now. 

However, a statement from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government this morning says:

Plans to raise standards across the entire property agent sector so home buyers, sellers, tenants, landlords and leaseholders receive the best service possible have been announced today by Housing Minister Heather Wheeler MP.

A new working group, chaired by Lord Best, and made up of experts from across the property sector will consider options.

This will include the case for regulation and the introduction of mandatory qualifications for all property agents so tenants, homebuyers and sellers can be confident they are getting a professional service and are being charged fairly.

At the moment, anyone can operate as a property agent without any qualifications or professional oversight. Many take a professional approach and sign up to standards of practice through membership of a professional body, but others do not.

The working group will consider the entire property agent sector to ensure any new framework, including any professional qualifications requirements, a Code of Practice, and a proposed independent regulator, is consistent across letting, managing and estate agents.

Speaking following the announcement, Housing Minister, Heather Wheeler MP said: "For too long, many people have faced incurring fees and bad service from a number of property agents. People should have confidence when buying, selling or renting a home.

"Lord Best’s wealth of knowledge will provide a valuable insight and help us make necessary changes to ensure consumers have confidence when buying, selling, letting or renting their home."

Lord Best will be joined by representatives of agents and consumers, as well as independent experts, with the group instructed to report back to government in summer 2019.

Lord Best said: "There have been calls for tighter, fairer regulation of property agents from those representing tenants, landlords and agents themselves. I am delighted to work with government, industry and consumers to advise on how we can accomplish this in practice, and I look forward to our working group achieving real progress together."

Other members of the group include representatives from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, the National Landlords Association, Citizens Advice, the Association of Residential Letting Agents and the National Association of Estate Agents. This is to ensure the entire sector is represented and the needs of both businesses and consumers are considered.

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