One part of the UK is to get a taste of the mandatory estate agent regulation that many want to see right across the country.
Jersey’s Channel Island government is seeking to remove rogue and unqualified agents, with support from Propertymark; some 40 per cent of the island’s agents are members of Propertymark.
Back in 2018 a Jersey government investigation recommended all agents on the island become members of an approved professional body and follow a code of conduct.
In an unregulated market, Propertymark has raised its concerns about some agents’ level of knowledge about the properties they are marketing in specific reference to the legal requirements needed from them. This includes ensuring potential buyers have all material information within their knowledge that would affect the decision of a customer.
Mark Hayward, Propertymark’s chief policy advisor, comments: “The absence of a regulatory framework that requires agents to be a member of a professional body and adhere to a code of practice leaves consumers vulnerable to bad practice and questionable standards. This means there is no consistent, transparent route to redress for consumers when things go wrong, and agents are not held to account against the same standards. Regulation would level the playing field and encourage a more joined-up approach.
“Monitoring compliance with a statutory code of practice requires regulatory oversight which is why estate agents in Jersey should, in the first instance, be legally required to attain professional membership before being permitted to practice.”
As part of the steps needed to regulate the sector, Propertymark says that requiring all practicing agents to have appropriate training, be qualified, and commit to continued professional development to practice would play an important factor. It says that this is due to the continued evolution of day-to-day practices due to legislative changes, the buying and selling of property are complicated tasks governed by complex areas of law.
A joined-up approach is also crucial says the industry body, in order to help ensure greater levels of consistency from multi-disciplinary firms.
To tackle this, Propertymark has advised that the Jersey Government widen the scope of regulation to include both letting agents and block management agents so that the whole housing market is under the same regulatory umbrella in order to reduce confusion and inconsistency.
Alongside this, it also has advised that regulation be combined with adequately resourced enforcement agencies that are not wasting their limited resources on administrative licensing schemes.