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Government urged to stop ‘sitting on its hands’ over agency regulations

The architect of the Regulation of Property Agents (ROPA) reforms has expressed frustration that the recommendations have failed to materialise as they approach their fifth anniversary.

Lord Best published his committee’s ROPA report in July 2019, calling for minimum standards and qualifications in estate agency.

The Government back the reforms but nothing has been changes almost five years later.


He told Estate Agent Today: “There has been a lot of other stuff going on so it hasn’t been a priority.

“I don’t think the Government is against it, they have accepted the need for regulations across political parties, it just hasn’t featured sufficiently prominently.

“There is no suggestion that it would solve the housing problem but it is important.”

It comes as the House of Lords Industry and Regulators Committee, which Lord Best sits on, has written to Housing Secretary Michael Gove to urge him and the Government to get on with implementing the ROPA recommendations.

The committee has been conducting a short inquiry into agency regulation that heard The Property Ombudsman, the Leasehold Advisory Service, Propertymark and National Trading Standards.

Baroness Taylor of Bolton, chair of the House of Lords Industry and Regulators Committee, said: “The Government has been sitting on its hands for four years, by not acting on the report of the Working Group it set up. In the meantime, the impact of poor regulation is being felt by tenants and leaseholders, and the sector has been left in limbo.”
Baroness Taylor of Bolton, Chair of the House of Lords Industry and Regulators Committee.

The committee has suggested a new regulator would make a difference by driving up standards in the sector and proactively enforcing against bad agents.

It said current forms of enforcement and redress are reactive and limited in scope and also called for the creation of just one ombudsman scheme for the sector, which could effectively mean either The Property Ombudsman or the Property Redress Scheme lose role.

Baroness Taylor added: "During our inquiry, there was near unanimous evidence from consumers, industry and existing bodies on the need for statutory regulation of property agents and the establishment of a new regulator.

“The Government has been sitting on its hands for four years, by not acting on the report of the Working Group it set up. In the meantime, the impact on poor regulation is being felt by tenants and leaseholders, and the sector has been left in limbo.

“I have also expressed to the Secretary of State that we would have appreciated a minister from his department providing oral evidence to the inquiry.”

The Government has until 26 April to respond.

Agency trade body Propertymark welcomed the committee’s findings and its recommendations for greater regulation of property agents.

Timothy Douglas, head of policy and campaigns for Propertymark, said: "The inquiry highlights the importance of regulation and the need to improve consumer protections. It has also clarified the vital role that professional bodies currently play in providing qualifications and ensuring compliance with rules and regulations as well as taking action to drive up standards across the property sector.

“It is vital that mandatory qualifications, a statutory code of practice and regulatory oversight exists through a new regulator to ensure compliance with new and impending legislation. The UK Government must not miss the opportunity to act on the recommendations of the Regulation of Property Agents Working Group and build in greater protections for consumers. Recent and proposed pieces of legislation for leasehold, renting and building safety are complex and need to be accompanied by overarching regulation that supports and promotes competent and professional property agents.”

  • Andrew Stanton PROPTECH-PR A Consultancy for Proptech Founders

    I think it wrong that people who have no idea what it is to be a an estate agent should decide they want to regulate them, the Chair of Ropa has been a parliamentarian all her life and never spent a day selling a property and Richard Best although having great insight into housing trusts and associations, again has no personal knowledge of what it is to be an agent.

    Given it is now half a decade and RoPa stays firmly a pipedream, I feel it is more likely that the House of Lords needs regulation than agents who do not need another layer of red tape and no doubt an extra annual fee to pay or courses to pay for.

    We live in the age of technology, software will increasingly be the guiding hand of compliance, I think it is a generational thing (Mr Best at 78 and Mrs Taylor at 76) to think that property professionals need talk and chalk, when AI is set to change the whole paradigm of work, who does it and where. ‘The Brave New World’ is upon us and is eating Dinosaurs for breakfast.

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    A whole load of people will millions invested in seeing regulation become law, insting that regulations become law is not evidence. Its a stich up.

  • Shaun Adams

    For agents to be qualified before they can work in agency is a good thing. It needs to be introduced slowly but introduced now.


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