On 18 July, the Regulation of Property Agents: Working Group, chaired by Lord Best, issued a report making recommendations on:
- a model for an independent property-agent regulator, including how it will operate and how it will enforce compliance
- a single, mandatory and legally-enforceable Code of Practice for property agents
- a system of minimum entry requirements and continuing professional development for property agents
- clarifying processes and charges for leaseholders.
The Law Society welcomed the group’s recommendation that property agencies should be regulated.
Law Society president Simon Davis said: “Solicitors are a highly regulated profession and we have long maintained that property agencies should be subject to greater regulation.
“Whilst property agencies are not going to be held to the same standard as solicitors, it is important consumers are given more protection.
“Buying or renting a home is one of the biggest investments people make in their lives and they deserve to feel confident any property professionals involved in their purchase – and while they are living in the property – are properly regulated.”
“The call for greater transparency around additional charges is very much welcomed,” added Davis.
“Many buyers enter purchases unaware that their new property might come with leasehold or freehold charges and then struggle to afford these payments.
“Providing consumers with this information as early as possible in the process will allow them to make informed decisions.
“We are keen to see the response of government to the report, in particular, how any obligations on solicitors and other professionals to report evidence of possible illegal behaviour by agents to the regulator might work.”