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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Agent battered by GDPR tells government: "Cut the red tape!"

An outspoken estate agent has given the government a clear message - get off our backs , ease the red tape and let our industry help the economy recover.

Trevor Abrahmsohn - managing director of high-end London agency Glentree International and one of the founders of OnTheMarket - says the recent introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is merely the latest in a long line of regulations creating hoops that agencies and other businesses must jump through.

“I’m not saying that the consumer doesn’t need protecting ... but don’t you agree that with all the other suffocating regulatory restrictions this must be the ‘straw that breaks the camel’s back’?” asks Abrahmsohn in his latest blog.

He says GDPR adds to a list including measures against data protection and money laundering, The Bribery Act, The Estate Agents Act, Right to Rent, fire regulations, Legionella assessments, electrical certificates, health and safety and others. Together, he says, they form a vice-like grip “which a python could only aspire to.”

He says his own agency Glentree has a perfect example of how regulation is strangling business. 

“Glentree wanted to encourage a private wealth department of a well-known clearing bank to do business, with the idea for them to simply introduce potential clients to the business, who may like to buy or rent property in London and where they could be offered a convenient, ‘one-stop-shop, service. 

“The plan was that Glentree would not take any deposit monies, since this would always be dealt with by the client’s independent solicitors. 

“The bank, understandably, asked for Glentree’s accounts, which were given to them, and every interminable question about them and the shareholding structure of the company was answered. This involved the company’s solicitors, accountants and other professional input.

“This tortuous journey lasted over one year and when Glentree went back to the bank to suggest that the matter should now be brought to a conclusion after all this time, they responded by saying that since due diligence had taken so long, they needed another set of up-to-date company accounts, for compliance purposes.”

Glentree scrapped the idea at that point, telling the bank that bureaucracy and regulation were at fault. 

Abrahamsohn says what he calls ‘the Know Your Client cure’ - in the form of due diligence about tenants, landlords, buyers and sellers - is now much worse than the ailment itself. 

“Is it any wonder that the smooth flow of business is being asphyxiated by these inane regulations?” he asks. 

He insists he doesn’t want a totally deregulated ‘Wild West’ but believes “something between this and terminal suffocation” has to be achievable.

Poll: Has Trevor got a point?

PLACE YOUR VOTE BELOW

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    I couldn't agree any more. There are just 3 of us in our little business yet we still have to cover the mountain of work this red tape demands. It equates to almost a full time job for me, unpaid of course. With the introduction of more and more regulation I'm finding less and less time to actually work on the business itself, providing little chance of growth while my other 2 are flat out on day to day activities. It's sheer madness.

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    I feel you Pain debbie we are the same as a branch manager i should be driving the business forward but i have become a pen pushing compliance officer.

     
  • Chris JaiBahadur

    Totally agree, this governments imminent banning of referencing fees which helped cover the cost for additional work this government has imposed on us now GDPR requires more unpaid work.

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    I agree, the red tape is now overwhelming ... I just had to do a 30 odd page fire risk assessment too! However, I suspect that we are not alone, my guess is its almost as bad for solicitors, accountants etc but not AS bad as in our industry.

  • Mike Lewis

    Totally agree. Completely over the top.

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    And the European Commission who imposed this BS on us all have decided that they are not bound by their own law....https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2018/05/30/embarrassing-leak-shows-eu-falls-short-data-law/

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    I have been saying the same for a while now. Our industry has undergone a barrage of legislation and policy changes in the past few years none of which are to the benefit of the industry. We are being turned into the governments property police with severe penalties ON US if we make a mistake under an ever-growing workload of compliance. Trying to interpret the governments ambiguous 'guidance' on their own policies, in particular AML and GDRP, is a minefield.
    AML regulations in particular are putting normal people in harm’s way - yes Estate Agents are actually fairly normal people! You either report a suspected villain who then pays you a visit to show his appreciation, or you don't and risk two years in prison for not reporting them. The government are surprised at the low number of SAR referrals, really?!
    I am not anti-government at all, but recent legislative changes have been unprecedented in their numbers, and policies are often unclear or very much open to interpretation, which by definition makes them unworkable.
    The industry is an enormous source of employment, and of revenue for the government, help us with solutions please not just obstacles.

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    Surely, the larger question is what our regulatory bodies are doing to protect our business as a whole. I've never been a fan of the NAEA as I've always regarded them as a "paper tiger" - and the impression that I've had of them recently is that they "roll over" every time the Government/EU has another crazy idea to restrict us "Banditos"! With the financial power of the corporates & the on-line "jonnies" - isn't it about time that the independent traders agents banded together to protect ourselves - after all, it will be us individually who get squeezed out of the market if we do nothing - it's inevitable.

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    Excellent article, many thanks for your support on this. Renting and selling properties has almost become a sideline to dealing with compliance! They appear to biting the hand that feeds one of the main housing suppliers in the UK. Time for stronger action by our industry bodies.

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