Patrick Oliver - Proud of Industry Memberships and Welcomes Estate Agent Reforms

Posted on 10th April 2018

Patrick Oliver Estate Agents welcomes the latest news released by the Government on Easter Sunday in relation to Estate and Letting Agent reforms. 

Director, Gemma Patrick, and Patrick Oliver Ltd are proud to have active memberships and up to date knowledge of: 

NAEA Propertymark

ARLA Propertymark

MNAEA & MARLA

Property Redress Scheme

Client Money Protection

Money Laundering Regulations

Preferrered Gas Safe and EICR Contractors

Hastings Council Housing & Environmental Health Regulations 

“At last!” - Industry embraces reform of buying and selling processes

Agents and representatives from other property sectors have reacted enthusiastically to proposals to professionalise the industry.

As reported on Easter Sunday, the government wants estate agents to have qualifications before they set up business, with comprehensive reforms to simplify house buying.

“We particularly welcome the commitment to further regulation - we have long argued that estate agents should be recognised as professionals, this is an important step towards achieving this and we look forward to working with the government” says Mark Hayward, chief executive of NAEA Propertymark.

“If you sit in front of your lawyer or accountant you would expect them to be qualified; the same should apply to someone selling or letting your key asset - hooray and finally!” says Frank Webster, director of Countywide-owned lettings agency Finders Keepers.

Leading market commentator and buying agent Henry Pryor described the measures as “sharpening up the industry” while training guru and chair of Agents Giving Peter Knight said on Twitter: “At long last.”

Jeremy Leaf, a north London agent and former chair of the RICS residential faculty, also took to social media to say: “Another very welcome long overdue announcement - now look forward to further detail and timetable for delivery.”

Russell Quirk, chief executive of online estate agency Emoov, says: “This is really great news. The industry and government have talked to a long time to clean up house buying. If you add both speed and certainty to the process, there will be fewer transactions falling through, less wasted money, and less stress for the consumer.

“For far too long it has got away with being almost entirely unregulated. How can it be that financial advisers dealing with the loan for the property are vetted, but the people dealing with the asset itself and the trauma of a protracted process are not overseen or licensed?”

Meanwhile Paula Higgins, chief executive of the HomeOwners Alliance consumer group, says in a statement: “It’s been clear for many years that the current system is not fit for purpose. Buyers and sellers regularly pay referral fees and other hidden charges without fully understanding what they’re paying for. As a weakly regulated and inadequately enforced industry, many agents themselves do not understand the consumer laws they are required to abide by. This causes a huge detriment of both buyers and sellers, and sales are falling through regularly causing heartbreak and costing thousands.”

Higgins continues: “Proper regulation of the estate agency sector is fantastic news. Estate agents play a vital role in the sale and purchase of one of the biggest assets were ever likely to own yet for too long they’ve had no prescriptive rule by which to operate. This announcement will give homeowners and buyers greater assurances when getting involved in the buying and selling process.”

Government reveals letting agents' mandatory qualification and code of conduct

The government has this morning - Easter Sunday - announced a crackdown on rogue letting agents in the shape of a mandatory code of practice and the introduction of a nationally-recognised qualification. 

It says criminal charges will be brought against those letting and managing agents who break the code; a new regulator will be set up to police the code, and agents who fail to comply will not be permitted to trade.

Agents failing to comply will be barred from trading, while those who commit serious code breaches will face prosecution.

The government’s announcement this morning reads: “With thousands of renters and leaseholders suffering at the hands of rogue agents every day from unexpected costs, deliberately vague bills or poor quality repairs, a new mandatory code of practice is proposed to stop managing and letting agents from flouting the law.

“To further professionalise both sectors, letting and managing agents will be required to obtain a nationally recognised qualification to practice, with at least one person in every organisation required to have a higher qualification.

“A new independent regulator responsible for working practices of agents will be given strong powers of enforcement for those who break the rules – and agents who fail to comply will not be permitted to trade. Criminal sanctions could also be brought in for those who severely breach the code.

Housing minister Heather Wheeler says: ‘Most property agents take a thorough and professional approach when carrying out their business, but sadly some do not. By introducing new standards for the sector, we will clamp down on the small minority of agents who abuse the system so we can better protect tenants and leaseholders who find themselves at the end of a raw deal.”

Other proposals to be brought in under the code include:

- a new system to help leaseholders challenge unfair fees including service charges;

- support for leaseholders to switch their managing agents where they perform poorly or break the terms of their contract;

  • a requirement for all letting and managing agents to undertake continuing professional development and training. 

The new code will be developed by a working group comprising representatives of letting, managing and estate agents, as well as tenants and regulation experts. The government says the group will be established as soon as possible and is expected to draw up the final proposals early next year.

The group will also look in greater depth at unfair additional charges for freehold and leaseholders and whether they should be capped or banned. This includes the use of restrictive covenants, leasehold restrictions and administration charges.

The government has also published its response to its consultation on the introduction of mandatory Client Money Protection schemes for letting agents, with legislation to be brought forward to introduce privately-led schemes and civil penalties of up to £30,000 for agents who fail to comply with the scheme.

The government says that according to industry estimates, £2.7 billion in client funds is held by letting agents at any one time. 

“Making this scheme mandatory is vital to ensure every agent is offering the same level of protection, giving tenants and landlords the financial protection that they deserve, and will mean they are reimbursed if their letting agent is fraudulent or goes bankrupt” says the government’s statement this morning.

*Articles Courtesy of Estate Agent Today and Letting Agent Today

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