28 May 2019

The head of the Property Redress Scheme is urging agents to prepare for yet more regulation and legislation changes likely to be introduced over the rest of 2019.

Sean Hooker – head of redress at the PRS – says: “With so much change and with the increasing risk of being fined or even closed down, agents will need to ensure they have all their ducks in a row. The market is changing and the consumer is becoming more aware of their rights.”

And he adds: “Ultimately the majority of property professionals will comply, make the necessary changes and will embrace the new landscape as part of a trusted and safe sector, providing quality services to their customers.

Hooker says a string of measures have already been introduced this year, including the (Homes) Fitness for Human Habitation Act in March, the mandatory Client Money Protection scheme membership in April and next week’s upcoming ban on letting agent fees to tenants and cap on security and holding deposits.

But there’s more to come – and although Hooker’s comments were made ahead of this week’s political developments at Westminster, these measures are likely to go ahead even if there is a change of Prime Minister.

In the PRS annual report, Hooker predicts that the government will:

  • introduce specific reforms on leasehold later this year, and ban leases on houses;
  • implement a provision in the Estate Agency Act 1979 to ensure all estate agents will require mandatory qualifications, and extend this to letting agents and property managers;
  • introduce regulation to the sector and a code of conduct to govern property professionals;
  • ask the industry to adopt voluntary transparency relating to estate agents referral fees received for recommending other commercial services, otherwise they will look to ban these;
  • look at bringing in other changes to the home buying process;
  • introduce mandatory electrical safety checks on all rental properties and extend the requirement for CO monitors in every property, not only those with solid fuel burners;
  • set up a Housing Complaint Resolution Service, where a consumer can direct their complaint and it will direct them to the appropriate scheme. There will be a common complaints code and increased cooperation and data sharing amongst the schemes;
  • introduce landlord redress to bring landlords in line with agents;
  • set up a New Build Homes Ombudsman for consumers of new, off plan and refurbished buildings. “Again this will be a challenge and there are currently no timescales” says Hooker.

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