Growing calls for estate agency regulation

During the initial hearing of the LUHC Committee’s inquiry into the home buying and selling process in England, key industry figures emphasised the need for estate agency regulation. 

While many issues are being explored, agency regulation was highlighted by Clive Betts, chair of the committee. Commenting on the review, he said: “As part of this inquiry, we will look at the chief obstacles to improving the process of buying and selling a home. We will be keen to examine issues such as the time taken to complete a transaction and challenges in finding the right information. Topics such as a lack of transparency around conveyancing services, the payment of ‘referral fees’, and the weak regulation of estate agents will also be on our agenda in this inquiry.” 

At the evidence session on 13th May 2024, Paula Higgins, chief executive of the HomeOwners Alliance, questioned why, as gatekeepers to people buying or selling property, estate agents aren’t regulated. She also said many aren’t sure of the rules. 

Timothy Douglas, head of policy and campaigns at Propertymark, agreed that agency regulation is needed. He suggested legislation currently going through parliament should be used to implement minimum standards and qualifications for property professionals. Following the evidence session, Propertymark continued to call for agent legislation, regulation, and qualifications to be introduced as part of the proposed Renters Reform Bill. 

However, a parliamentary question-and-answer session in April 2024 suggested that the government was not willing to include the introduction of an independent property agents regulator as an amendment to the Bill.  

In answer to Lord Kennedy, Baroness Swinburne, who is the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, said:  

“The Government are committed to raising professionalism among property agents. Property agents must already belong to a redress scheme. The Government’s Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill and Renters (Reform) Bill will help drive up overall standards. Legislating to set up a new regulator would, however, require significant additional legislative time that we do not have in this parliament. We will meanwhile continue to work with industry on improving best practice, including on codes of practice.” 

Moreover, with the general election now called, the Renters Reform Bill failed to become law before parliament was prorogued, and we will need to look to the next government to see what happens next.  

What should Estate Agents do now?  

As we await the outcome of the general election, agents should be aware of possible changes and take steps to future-proof their practices.    

Providing sound knowledge, practical solutions, and AML training, we help our estate agent clients understand the regulations and industry requirements and adapt their processes and procedures accordingly. 

Find out more about our Estate Agent AML Support Services, or get in touch today for an initial chat about how we can help. Email [email protected] or call 020 3051 2049 

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