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Government announces plans to improve property agent standards

New plans to raise standards across the property agent sector have been unveiled by the housing minister Heather Wheeler.

A new working group made up of experts from across the property sector will consider options. This will include the case for regulation and the introduction of mandatory qualifications for all property agents so landlords, tenants, homebuyers and sellers can be confident they are getting a professional service and are being charged fairly.

The group, chaired by Lord Best, will report their recommendations to government by summer next year, with a view to better supporting homebuyers, sellers, landlords, leaseholders and tenants.

The working group will consider the entire property agent sector to ensure any new framework, including any professional qualifications requirements, a Code of Practice, and a proposed independent regulator, is consistent across letting, managing and estate agents.

Speaking following the announcement, Wheeler said: “For too long, many people have faced incurring fees and bad service from a number of property agents. People should have confidence when buying, selling or renting a home.

“Lord Best’s wealth of knowledge will provide a valuable insight and help us make necessary changes to ensure consumers have confidence when buying, selling, letting or renting their home.

“Lord Best will be joined by representatives of agents and consumers, as well as independent experts, with the group instructed to report back to government in summer 2019.”

A recent survey by Which? found that 85% of landlords who use an agent are satisfied with the service and 67% of tenants were satisfied with the way their agent repairs and maintains their home.

But Lord Best said that there have been calls for tighter, fairer regulation of property agents from those representing tenants, landlords and agents themselves.

He commented: “I am delighted to work with government, industry and consumers to advise on how we can accomplish this in practice, and I look forward to our working group achieving real progress together.”

Other members of the group, designed to ensure the entire sector is represented and the needs of both businesses and consumers are considered, include representatives from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the National Landlords Association, Citizens Advice, the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA Propertymark) and the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA Propertymark).

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