The industry will be eager to know how a new regulator will work alongside existing trade bodies and redress schemes. Moreover, the new system will need to be clear so agents and agencies know their responsibilities and consumers can understand their rights and routes to redress.
The introduction of mandatory qualifications and licences required for operating could be successful in identifying those agencies which aren’t professionally committed to the industry and prohibit them from operating. Qualifications for all agents, no matter their experience, could also help towards achieving the ‘level playing field’ the government has been striving to create.
However, it is important that the qualifications agents are required to have are spelt out as soon as possible so that agencies can plan for the training time and costs to reduce the impact on their business.
Meanwhile, a Code of Practice will help to establish minimum standards for agencies and work as a benchmark for consumers using their services.
That being said, the additional cost of funding the new regulator through an ‘industry levy’ on agents and agencies is not specified, so there could be concerns this cost could drive up landlord fees. In turn, this could drive more landlords towards the short-lets sector, which will not be regulated, or to self-management, which will not initially be covered by the new regulator.
As we move forward with these proposals, agents’ key considerations will revolve around associated costs, time taken for implementation and how existing workforces and new recruits will be affected in the future.
This historic shake-up can be positive for agencies, adding an additional layer of professionalism and contributing towards improving the public perception of the industry.
The next crucial step for agents will be to start preparing for change immediately, as the report indicates that the regulator could be in place in two years. The government will need to implement the new system clearly and efficiently, with capacity for effective enforcement.