There is only one really big piece of news this week and this is the publication of Lord Best’s Regulation of Property Agents (ROPA) working group report.
The working party has been working on this since last October 2018 and it has been pretty clear for a while that they are going to recommend proper regulation for the industry.
The is the summary from the Conclusion of the report (para 147) of their proposals:
- A new independent regulator to lead a new non-departmental public body to oversee a
new regulatory regime for property agents;
- For that new regulatory regime to bind on companies, and certain individuals, that are acting as intermediaries to property transactions;
- For those regulated to be licensed by the new regulator;
- For the new regulator to be responsible for an overarching statutory code of practice, with modules binding on agents depending on their area of work;
- For the new regulator to be responsible for the syllabus for a modular approach to the qualifications, required for individuals within regulated companies, allowing agents to become proficient in those aspects of property agent work as suits the needs of their role and career, subject to minimum requirements on those carrying out restricted activities; and
- For the new regulator to sit at the heart of a system of enforcement and redress which
takes on, at their discretion, the support of national and local trading standards, of
redress schemes, and of professional bodies.
They suggest that the regulation cover all those carrying out property agency work and that this should include auctioneers, rent-to-rent firms, property guardian providers, international property agents, and online agents.
The scheme will obviously take some time to set up and develop. There will need to be a brand new regulator to as none of the current organisations are (say the report) able to take on the role. The idea is that its costs will be covered by fees from those being regulated but that the government should get it going with some ‘seed money’.
Once the new system is up and running the legislation should allow it to be extended to others – they suggest landlords, freeholders and developers, retirement housing managers and Right to Manage companies. The criminal element should, they hope, largely be eliminated by the requirement that all those regulated pass a ‘fit and proper person’ test.
Along with everyone else (apart from the criminal element no doubt) I welcome this report and if it is put into action (which looks likely) and enforced properly it should largely get rid of the criminal element.
As the NLA CEO Richard Lambert said:
We hope that the proposals outlined in the report will drive forward the professionalisation of the private rented sector, making it a better place for those who live and work in it. We were particularly pleased that the report went beyond simply looking at activities and placed a new emphasis on the importance of ethics and behaviour.
But the new regulator will be toothless if the Government continues to fail to provide the resources to enforce existing legislation, let alone any new requirements.
No doubt I and Ben will be writing further on this in the months to come. You will find the report here.
The Housing Health and Safety Rating System to be updated
The other big piece of news (rather overshadowed by Lord Best’s ROPA report) is that the current system used by Council’s to assess whether a property is safe will be comprehensively overhauled. This will, they say
make the system easier to understand for landlords and tenants, correct the disconnect between the HHSRS and other legislative standards, and facilitate the effective enforcement of housing standards by local authorities.
People have been calling for this for some time. The current system has not been updated for 12 years and is complicated and difficult to use. You will find a brief overview from barrister Sam Madge Wyld on our YouTube channel.
Norwich City Council build energy-saving social housing
I was thrilled to read recently that right on my back doorstep in Norwich, the Council has a fantastic small development which has been built to Passivhaus standard. You can read all about it in this article in the Guardian.
Said Gail Harris, the Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for social housing:
It’s already won lots of awards, which is lovely, and other councils are really envious, but that’s not the point. It’s about people having good quality homes and low fuel bills. And we plan to build a lot more.
- A tenant who pretended to be a landlord carved up five houses into illegal homes
- Nationwide to build its first housing estate near Swindon on a not for profit basis
- Housing crisis predicted for renting millennials when they retire
- The RLA says banning no-fault section 21 evictions will hurt tenants
Newsround will be back next week.