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Radical reform for agency industry to be signed off by minister today

Some of the most radical reforms ever proposed for estate and letting agents are expected to be signed off today by housing minister Heather Wheeler MP.

The government-backed Regulation of Property Agents working party, known as RoPA, met for the final time last Thursday and is believed to have won unanimous agreement from its membership for the reform proposals.

The working party has been chaired by Lord Richard Best, currently chair of The Property Ombudsman scheme and chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Housing and Care for Older People. He has formerly led the National Federation of Housing Associations and the housing-focussed Joseph Rowntree Trust.


Members of RoPA include representatives from the NAEA, ARLA and TPO, several other trade organisations as well as pressure groups; it has met several times since its inaugural session last autumn. 

It is widely expected that the government will rapidly endorse the recommendations being put to Wheeler today, with an announcement expected later this week confirming that the government will legislate to enact the proposals over the next two years.

The recommendations are expected to include: 

- a new and overall regulator for the industry; it is so far uncertain how this will work in tandem with existing bodies such as the TPO, NAEA and ARLA;

- mandatory qualifications for agents and all those in ‘consumer facing’ positions dealing with buyers, sellers, landlords or tenants;

- whatever their previous experience agents will have to secure qualifications, so there will be no so-called ‘grandfathering’;

- every qualified agent would become ‘licensed’ and only license holders would be able to engage in a list of ‘reserved activities’ - core selling or letting activities;

- there will be substantial penalties for any agent without qualifications who attempts to undertake ‘reserved activities’;

- there will be a new industry Code of Practice with specifics to be worked out by current trade bodies such as the NAEA, ARLA, TPO and others;

- the regulator will be in place within two years and qualifications would roll out from that time.

These reforms are part of a wider-ranging series of government-led industry changes, some of which are still to be agreed - for example reservation fees, non-returnable deposits, possible log books for properties and so on. 

  • Babonday Brian

    Very good idea. When agents are as qualified as nurses can we have a guaranteed income and a massive gov't. Backed pension pot as well?

    Pric$ks act like it's easy surviving every month in this corrupt, populist country

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    Interesting, i obtained a National Diploma back in 1991 which was carried out by the NAEA in association with the Kings College in London. NAEA doesn't acknowledge this certificate even though it was signed by their then president. So a new body, would be good and to hold some credibility with serious decision making without politicians dictating some new law to keep their existence and fat salary.

  • jeremy clarke

    Prepare for the fat cats at arla and other organisations that represent themselves and do little for their members to start squabbling over who should be the training provider, who should be the industry "experts" .
    What is crazy is the no grandfathering policy! 30+ years in this business and yet we are to be told what to do by a minister with zero experience who just last week was minister for streetlights! There will be a lot of anger out there amongst agents who recognise the need for training and qualification too who will see all the money and effort that they have spent p***ed up against the wall by the publication of a report which says gov should ignore everything that has gone before and all should get a qualification that hasn't yet been "invented" overseen by an organisation that doesn't yet exist to satisfy a gov that cannot negotiate a deal after more than 3 years!

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    • 15 July 2019 09:52 AM

    The sheer logistics involved make 'grandfathering' to a major extent the only viable way to maintain the Industry.
    You can't make an industry redundant overnight because of qualification requirements.
    This is what happened in the HGV and PSV market.
    New drivers had to immediately obtain the CPD qualifications.
    Drivers of many years were assigned 'grandfather' rights until about 5 years ago when every driver now has to have a CPD qualification.
    But this took about 10 years to fully introduce.
    Had they tried it overnight the transport industry would have ground to a halt.
    So I believe sanity will prevail and there will be 'grandfathering' for the EA/LA industry.
    It will of course be quite useful for current incumbents as it provides a barrier to entry.
    As consolidation continues apace that should result in far more effective trading conditions for those remaining.
    This would be no bad thing as curently there are simply too many EA/LA chasing too little business to be resilient enough.
    So every cloud and all that!!
    But 'grandfathering' must be allowed for a reasonable period.
    It would be madness not to!!

  • David Robinson

    ..no mention of the RICS

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    I personally think its unfair agents like myself who have been in the industry a long while and have to go back too school to study, the housing market is a mess anyway without more stress added to take a qualification and could then be out of a job if not passed.

  • Jon James

    What a total joke this government has been. As a thirty year serving estate agent and a conservative voter since my first eligible change, I will never vote Tory again. They have destroyed the housing and letting markets since 2010 and here’s another headline pleasing hairbrain scheme. Please concentrate on getting brexit dealt with, more police on the streets and creating a sensible incentivised tax system.

  • Chris Mervyn

    Those that have been agents for a set amount of time will have their expertise taken into consideration on new training' or 'minimum standards' being set - and any training will have an amount of time to be implemented (2 years). The regulatory body will have teeth to suspend any agents not undertaking the necessary training/cpd but please don't get this 'association' or 'body' mixed up with one that can have a direct affect on the industry as a whole - that will not happen. The government are the only 'body' that can change the buying and selling process - which they will as they feel it is broken - as long as they are in power of course!
    I personally think that if done correctly this is great for the industry. I am sick of having to justify my own NAEA qualified, time honoured in the local market expertise against those who see selling a property as a 'quick buck'. Those days are long gone. But if done correctly the industry can start to become one that can rightly attach the words 'professional' and 'licensed' - and hopefully be seen in the public's eyes as comparable with other professional industries.


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