Last week saw the long- trailed publication of the Regulation of Property Agents Working Group report, introducing a raft of proposals to regulate sales, letting and leasehold managing agents in what has until now been essentially a collection of self- regulating industries.
The current structure is recognised as long overdue for review. As it stands presently, an individual with no relevant qualifications, no industry experience and a relaxed attitude to compliance can set up a leasehold management business, holding unlimited client funds and responsibility for the safety of the building occupants. This seems patently absurd. I have written previously about the various facets that property management encompasses, but it seems self- evident that a regulatory structure be required to incorporate disparate areas including staff employment, financial control and fire safety compliance.
The working group chaired by Lord Best recommends introduction of an independent regulator, mandatory licencing of firms and qualifications for practising individuals, new codes of practice, and a review of the transparency in fees and charges levied to leaseholders. The notion is to put regulation of property agents undertaking ‘reserved activities’on the same footing as solicitors or accountants, where this has long been an integral factor. Indeed the Report directly compared the systems currently in place for the Financial Conduct Authority, Solicitors Regulation Authority and General Medical Council when considering the regulatory format to adopt for property agents.