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2020 – An End To Anarchy

Monday January 6, 2020

I suspect the idea of a world without rules has been a daydream of children since the beginning of time. “I could live on sweets and milkshakes”. “I could drive daddies’ car”. “I could go to bed when I want” and so on. With maturity comes the realisation that a world without rules would be a nightmare and that anarchy is nowhere near as much fun as the Sex Pistols song Anarchy in the UK tries to make it sound.

When it comes to professional advice, we expect rules to be in place and those rules to be enforced. Nobody would expect their solicitor to have walked out of prison last week then setup in business. Equally, we can be sure our accountant was not a bus driver last week then decided upon a career change.

Yet astonishingly, either of those scenarios could apply to a newly launched lettings business. The release of the snappily titled Regulation of Property Agents Working Group (RoPA) report looks set to change that for the better. The report includes new licencing regulations for lettings and estate agents with a new regulator to police a code of practice.

Customer facing staff will be required to hold an NVQ Level 3 qualification, the equivalent of an A level, with company directors and managing agents required to hold an NVQ Level 4. Agents will be required to display a licence to practice issued by the regulator. Before granting this licence the regulator will check that the company meets its legal obligations and adheres to an industry approved code of practice.

Having spent most of last year railing against ill-thought out legislation in the lettings sector it might be imagined that I am about to have a major moan? Absolutely not. I am in full agreement with the Chief Executive of our professional body, the Association of Residential Lettings Agents (ARLA), David Cox who said “This is a significant moment for those in the property sector and a huge leap forward in stamping out bad practice”.

And I am delighted that the new regulations mean absolutely no change to our business model or working practices. We have adopted the ARLA code of practice since 2012 and all our lettings and property managers hold professional qualifications. This is true of all reputable lettings agents who, like me, welcome the establishment and policing of professional standards. As for the small minority of disreputable agents who tend to give our sector a bad name, they may sign up for night classes or find a new business opportunity.

The new regulations are good news for both landlord and tenant since both can now be assured that their lettings agent is regulated, qualified and monitored in the same way as their financial adviser or accountant. Finally, the small number of rogue agents operating in our sector will be no more. Anarchy is only attractive to small children and as the ancient Greek philosopher Sophocles observed, “There is no greater evil than anarchy”.

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