Legal 101

The regulatory future of England’s letting agencies

Lorraine Dindi
·
October 7, 2021

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On the 2nd anniversary of RoPA’s groundbreaking report 

It has now been 2 years since the UK government’s committee on the possible regulation of letting agents, Regulation of Property Agents Working Group (RoPA), published their influential report recommending measures to regulate property agents in England. The overarching aim of regulation is to monitor and uphold the standards of service provided by letting agents.

What is the Regulation of Property Agents Working Group?

Founded in October 2018 by the Housing Minister, RoPA was tasked with advising the government on a model for regulating property agents in England’s private sector. Currently, England is the only nation in the UK whose letting agents operate and manage property without a legal framework specifically targeting their activities. 

There is some regulation, as we discussed, but RoPA suggested something far more robust to cover all those doing residential agency business.

What did the July 2019 RoPa report recommend?

In their report published in July 2019, RoPA recommended the formation of a public body to take on the role of key independent regulator. This body would oversee the qualification of letting agents, who would all need to be licensed and abide by a Code of Practice in their operations. The report proposed the creation of a list of “reserved activities” which may only be performed by licensed agents with at least a Level 3 qualification (e.g. AS & A Level education). Company directors and managing agents would need to have at least Level 4 qualifications (e.g. Certificate of Higher Education). You can read the full report here.

In March 2020, the Chair of the Regulation of Property Agents Working Group, Lord Best, expressed that the government should carry on with implementing the measures contained in the report. Many speculated that the implementation would take place earlier this year but this did not happen.  

Have the RoPa recommendations been implemented?

The need for this regulation was exacerbated in May 2021 when 3 rogue property agents were expelled from The Property Ombudsman, one of three government-approved letting agency redress schemes which all letting agents need to be a member of. Their expulsion was widely said to demonstrate the need for more regulation in this area of the housing sector.

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has made it impossible to predict when the RoPA report will make its way into legislation, but one thing is certain: regulation will come and letting agencies will have to comply or risk penalties. 

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The opinions on this page are for general information purposes only and do not constitute legal advice on which you should rely.


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