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By Nat Daniels

CEO, Angels Media


Property Natter – who are the industry’s major trade bodies?

They are the names we hear about often, pushing for this or seeking clarifications on that. They are the representatives of the industry, the main voice we all have, and serve as the best way of holding the government to account.

They are there to lobby MPs on behalf of the industry, to offer tips and guidance, to provide members with clarity over new legislation, to offer solutions, innovations and improvements to the way we all (and, more specifically, the housing market) work.

And no, they aren’t immune from criticism! In fact, they receive a fair bit of it from their members, including issues surrounding expensive membership fees and taking membership from onliners (which has left some traditional agencies peeved).


But they perform a vital function in an industry that is more beholden to regulation and legislation than most, where large sums of money are often at play and therefore rules surrounding money laundering and safe transactions are so crucial, and where there are a very tiny minority of rogues who seek to besmirch the reputation of everyone else.

In recent years, there has been an increasing move towards the industry speaking with one voice with the mergers of trade bodies or the creation of umbrella organisations to bring very different associations together under one brand.

Trade groups have also had a key role to play in the Regulation of Property Agents (RoPA) working group’s recommendations, designed to enhance and professionalise the industry to a greater degree than ever, which have been in the government’s in-tray for quite some time.

The first sign of some movement on this came on Wednesday, when it was revealed that a new estate agency Code of Practice is to be written by a group set up by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and The Property Ombudsman. The steering group will be led by a Labour peer and should produce the code by the end of this year. You can find out more in this EAT breaking news story here.

Below, with the above in mind, I take a look at the major players in this crucial part of our sector.

ARLA Propertymark

Originally known as the Association of Residential Lettings Agents (or ARLA), it became known as ARLA Propertymark in February 2017 when a range of groups came together under the Propertymark brand to achieve greater consumer awareness across the board.

It is the UK’s leading professional and regulatory body for letting agents, representing more than 9,000 members and campaigning for greater regulation in the lettings market.

The body recently revealed that, as of May 2020, nearly half (47%) of properties in the private rented sector were being managed by ARLA Propertymark members.

There are currently 4.8 million private rented homes, according to the most recent English Housing Survey. ARLA has a total of 10,219 branches within its membership in England, with an average of 221 properties managed per branch. Consequently, its members manage 2,258,399 properties, equalling 47% of the private rented sector in England.

What is its mission?

It aims to protect consumers and their money by holding its members accountable and empowering customers with knowledge and advice. It also aims to reassure all those renting and letting out property that agents who display the ARLA Propertymark Protected logo offer a better service and financial protection for their clients than those that don’t.

Who is its main spokesperson?

Chief executive David Cox has been with the association since January 2014 and regularly features in the national and trade press. ARLA has various regional representatives who gather members’ views and share them with the board, which consists of industry representatives working at different levels and from a broad range of backgrounds across the UK.

When was it founded?

Originally formed in 1981, its headquarters are based in Warwick.

NAEA Propertymark

NAEA Propertymark (originally known as the National Association of Estate Agents) is the UK’s leading professional body for estate agency personnel, representing members who practice from more than 12,000 offices in all aspects of property services.

It is dedicated to the goal of professionalism within all aspects of property, estate agency and land, with the aim of reassuring the general public that by appointing a NAEA Propertymark Protected agent, consumers will be safeguarded and receive the highest level of integrity and service.

What is its mission?

It aims to reassure all of those buying and selling property that estate agents who display the Propertymark Protected logo offer better protection for their clients: Client Money Protection, Professional Indemnity insurance, and membership of an independent redress scheme.

What’s more, members are subject to Propertymark Conduct and Membership Rules and disciplinary procedures, with sanctions for those who fall below the expected standards.

Who is its main spokesperson?

Mark Hayward is the chief executive of NAEA and, like David Cox at ARLA, is a regular in the press. However, we revealed on Friday that Hayward will be stepping down at the end of 2020.

The NAEA Propertymark board is also made up of industry representatives working at different levels and from a broad range of backgrounds right across the UK.

When was it founded?

Established as far back as 1962 by estate agent and entrepreneur Raymond Andrews, the NAEA was founded with the goal of upholding good practice and high professional standards in UK estate agency. This struck a chord at a time when there was little representation for estate agents, and the industry was seeking to become much better regulated.

Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)

One of the most widely respected trade bodies, RICS is an important source of research and data, and a keen promoter of best practice throughout the industry. It’s also the world's leading professional body for qualifications and standards in land, property, infrastructure and construction.

It represents more than 134,000 highly-qualified trainees and professionals across the world, with offices in every significant financial market, and says it is ideally placed to influence policy and embed its standards within local marketplaces in order to protect consumers and businesses.

What is its mission?

Through its ‘respected global standards, leading professional progression and trusted data and insight’, it aims to promote and enforce the highest professional standards in the development and management of land, real estate, construction and infrastructure. It also aims to innovate and progress the development of spaces and places so they are fit for future generations as well as the present ones.

Who is its main spokesperson?

It’s a large organisation covering a wide range of sectors, so there is no one main spokesperson for the UK property sector in particular. But some familiar names tend to crop up, including Simon Rubinsohn, RICS Chief Economist.

When it was founded?

It’s been around for yonks, established in London by John Clutton in 1868. It now has 900 staff.

National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA)

Formed this year by the merger between the National Landlords Association (NLA) and the Residential Landlords Association (RLA), after a protracted period where it seemed like the new super-body might never come to fruition, the association represents more than 80,000 landlords and agents across the UK.

Members own and manage around 10% of the PRS, equating to 500,000 properties.

What is its mission?

It aims to unite landlords up and down the country behind one consistent voice in government and deliver ‘previously impossible levels of service’ for its members. All NRLA members have access to a range of services and products, including unlimited use of its landlord advice team, deposit protection options, insurance, tenant referencing and credit checking services. It also has an industry publication and an online forum.

Who is its main spokesperson?

Ben Beadle is the chief executive. He was formerly a Justice of the Peace and operations director at PRS giant Touchstone, and in his younger days a referee in the FA Cup.

When was it founded?

Despite talk of it happening for ages, it wasn’t until April this year that the merger was officially rubberstamped. The NLA was originally formed in 1973 and the RLA was founded in 1998, with both original bodies still having their own separate sites despite the merger.

The Guild of Property Professionals

Often known simply as the Guild, it’s a membership organisation with a national network of approximately 800 independently owned estate agents.

What is its mission?

A well-known name in the industry, and holder of an excellent annual conference, it describes itself as a national network of carefully selected independent estate agents working together to ensure a ‘best in class’​ service to the public. It’s owned by eProp Services, which also owns the Fine & Country brand.

Who is its main spokesperson?

The Guild’s CEO, Iain McKenzie, is a well-known figure in the industry and a frequent voice in the trade press. The former Countrywide man joined the Guild in March 2017, replacing Marcus Whewell.

When was it founded?

The Guild was set up in the mid-1990s. It is based in Park Lane and provides industry training, in-depth compliance support and property promotion.

The Federation of Independent Agents (FIA)

One of the new kids on the block, the FIA was founded only last year (May 2019) by experienced industry professional Graham Lock, former managing director at The Property Franchise Group and co-founder of House Network.

Only one member agent per town is invited to join, and Lock has said previously that in addition to an entry application process, ‘agents will be expected to be top performers in their area and conduct their business in a professional and compliant manner’.

What is its mission?

The FIA aims to bring together ‘high-quality, non-competing independent estate agents’ who enjoy ‘support, thought-leadership, shared ideas, a range of products, services and corporate buying power’ that enables their business to thrive in a modern environment.

It also aims to leverage the economies of scale of a large number of independents combined, in order to secure PropTech and other services at a price and quality previously reserved for large high-spending corporates. It held its first conference in September last year.

In late May, it was revealed that the FIA has a strategic partnership with Homesearch, the popular challenger portal which launched earlier this week.

It’s not very clear how many members the association currently has, although it has previously said that it would like to reach 400 non-competing members at full strength.

Guild of Letting & Management

Founded with the vision of educating and guiding property professionals within the private rented sector to ensure compliance, best practice and due diligence, the GLM has, to date, trained more than 20,000 letting agents, landlords and property managers.

It believes that through education and training, property professionals can raise the standards within the lettings industry, providing a better service to landlords and tenants whilst minimising risk.

An independent organisation, it says its sole aim is to find the most effective way to meet training requirements, to help provide the latest information and up-to-date industry legislation.

Who is its main spokesperson?

Susie Crolla has been Managing Director since July 2005, and many of her team have been with the group for a similar number of years. The association has been going strong since 1996.

The above are just some of the many professional bodies and organisations offering support to various parts of the industry. The STAA (short-lets), UKAA (Build to Rent), Safeagent (formerly NALS), NAVA (valuers and auctioneers), ARMA (residential managing agents) and UKALA (letting agents) are all other well-known names.

Members might not always agree with the actions and goals of the groups they belong to, but would the property industry really be a better place without them? I very much doubt it.

Until next time…

*Nat Daniels is CEO of Angels Media, publishers of Estate Agent Today and Letting Agent Today. Follow him on Twitter @NatDaniels.


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