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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Regulation of Agents: consultation opens on new Code of Conduct

Agents now have a chance to say what they think should be in a new Code of Conduct being discussed following the Regulation of Property Agents report in 2019. 

It was recently announced that Labour peer Baroness Dianne Hayter would be the Chair of the Code of Practice Steering Group and now her group is asking agents themselves - and consumers - to have their input.

The consultation is based on the 14 recommendations made by Lord Best in his Regulation of Property Agents report of last year and the statement launching the consultation says ”It is envisaged that agents will be personally accountable for compliance with the Code through a future licencing and regulatory regime.”

These 14 are to be used by the future industry regulator to both authorise and oversee agents - both firms and individuals. The 14 are:

- Agents must act ethically, with honesty and integrity;

- Agents must act with due skill, care and diligence;

- Agents must communicate clearly, accurately and transparently to represent correctly their service or product;

- Agents must manage their businesses and staff effectively;

- Agents must make appropriate arrangements to protect their clients’ money;

- Agents must maintain appropriate accounts and records of their business activities;

- Agents must ensure that all staff are qualified and capable to handle responsibilities delegated to them;

- Agents must treat all customers fairly and equally;

- Agents must report breaches of the relevant code(s) to the new regulator;

- Agents must be open and transparent with the new regulator about matters that might affect their or others’ trust in the profession;

- Agents must handle information sensitively and in accordance with data protection legislation;

- Agents must seek to avoid conflicts of interest, and where this is unavoidable, declare all conflicts of interest and ensure these are managed properly;

- Agents must have effective consumer complaints procedures in place;

- Agents must comply with all relevant legislation.

The overarching code is proposed to have two sections - ‘Dealing with Consumers’ and ‘Managing Businesses and Staff’, and it addresses such issues as encouraging and respecting diversity; treating consumers fairly; agent training and development, conflicts of interests, complaints handling, handling client money and data protection.  

It also sets standards for transparency of communication and reporting property safety issues.

There will also be ‘sector codes’ covering specific agent services such as leasehold and block management, which will be developed later this year.

“The new code of practice will look to set standards at a higher level than currently legally set. The ambition of the code is that it will become a requirement for obtaining a licence to practice in the future, which will increase trust across the sector” says Baroness Hayter.

“Input from consumers, stakeholders, interest groups and the industry is paramount to ensuring that the Code of Practice is balanced, fit for purpose and meets the requirements of a future Regulator.”

The consultation, which you can see here, will remain open for two months, closing on Friday September 4.

The steering group looking at the consultation and then creating the code are:

- Baroness Dianne Hayter (chair);

- Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government officials;

- Dallas Banfield of the First Tier Tribunal;

- Cecilia Brodigan of the ARHM;

- Andrew Bulmer of the IRPM;

- Mairead Carroll of the RICS;

- David Cox of ARLA Propertymark;

- Anthony Essien of LEASE;

- Alison Farrar of NTSELAT Trading Standards;

- Tim Frome of the Property Redress Scheme;

- Nigel Glen of ARMA;

- Peter Habert of The Property Ombudsman;

- Steve Harriot of the Tenancy Deposit Service; 

- Mark Hayward of NAEA Propertymark;

- Chris Norris of the NRLA;

- Katrine Sporle, TPO;

- Liz Owen;

- Vivienne Sugar; and

- Isobel Thomson of safeagent.

  • Simon Shinerock

    Don’t forget ‘Agents must grow wings and learn to play a harp’ Anyone remember learning about the Spanish Constitution at school? How about keeping things simple down to earth practical and achievable for a change? Not a popular concept in the ‘woke ’times in which we live, it’s worrying that ‘Woke’ rhymes with ‘Broke’ hopefully just a coincidence

  • Charles McDowell

    These new rules are total nonsense.The notion that yet more regulation is the answer to everything is bonkers.Most of them should apply to ALL business not just the property sector.The Property Ombudsman does a perfectly good job we don’t need another group of jobs worth wading in and over regulating another sector.There will always be rogues but don’t bundle us all up in that category.

  • Richard Copus

    There's not a great deal of difference from the TPOS Code and RICS & Propertymark Rules of Conduct, except for the big word "qualified" which awaits definition. Being "open and transparent with the new regulator about matters that might affect their or others' trust in the profession" needs more explanation and "agents must report breaches of the relevant code to the regulator" sounds a bit like making shopping your competitor mandatory.

  • Angelo  Piccirillo CEO AVRillo

    As an ex estate agents, turned conveyancing specialists, I (as co-founder of AVRillo) know just how time-consuming regulation compliance can be. It's almost crippling, but ones which are needed all the same to keep the cowboys out. HOWEVER! There is no point having regulations unless there is bite behind them. They need to be enforced, so the good agents don't get swamped in tying up their resources, and the bad agents flout the rules, knowing there is no much chance of enforcement. My view, have your say, make the regulations work for you, but ask for enforcers to take action, so you all work from a level playing field and get consumers to trust agents again as their professional advisers.

  • Angelo  Piccirillo CEO AVRillo

    Get ready to work more, and make more money! There was no doubt at all that the boom would start around about now. Money is plentiful, people want to spend, and us Brits love to buy property. We have more home ownership than any of our European counterparts. We love buying property. When you buy, it makes you feel good, and it makes you spend more. Don't forget; the real brakes was Brexit. COVID will have a vaccine by the end of the year. So what next? Get yourself ready. Be prepared to work hard, service your client better, more calls more updates. Keep tighter control on your conveyancing and get ready to make the money agents desperately need to keep in business.

  • Welsh  Cynic

    If standards were raised, perhaps the public perception of estate agents could also be raised. At the moment it is a free for all, where anybody who can advertise on the web and subscribe to a portal can mislead a naive home owner to give them responsibility for the sale of their biggest asset! What would be wrong, as a minimum requirement, to be expected to take a test on the basics of law, regulation and professional practice, to obtain a licence to practice.? If you fail that, then work on getting the ability to meet it. You need a licence to drive a car, is it less important than that?

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