A proposed code of practice for property agents is now out for consultation, so block managers can take a look and comment on the proposals. These include 14 recommendations made by Lord Best in his Regulation of Property Agents report published last year. The code proposes a set of principles underpinning the professional standards that will be expected of residential property agents in the future.
The Code is split into two sections: ‘Dealing with consumers’ and ‘Managing businesses and staff’ and it applies both to the conduct and behaviour of agency firms and to agents as individuals. It will apply to anyone working in property sales and to lettings agents and property managers, as well as to auctioneers and property guardians. The code will also sit above the sector-specific codes that already regulate agents working in particular markets such as leasehold, retirement housing and build-to-rent.
The 14 recommendations are:
- Agents must act legally, ethically, with honesty and integrity.
- Agents must seek to avoid conflicts of interest, and where this is unavoidable, declare all conflicts of interest and ensure these are managed properly.
- Agents must treat all consumers fairly and equally.
- Agents must comply with all relevant legislation.
- Agents must act with due skill, care, and diligence.
- Agents must communicate clearly, accurately, and transparently to represent correctly their service or product.
- Agents must report breaches of the relevant code(s) to the new Regulator.
- Agents must be open and transparent with the new Regulator about matters that might affect their or others’ trust in the profession.
- Agents must disclose and report any information relating to a property that could threaten a resident’s safety or does not conform to relevant mandatory property standards.
- Agents must manage their businesses and staff effectively.
- Agents must make appropriate arrangements to protect consumers’ money.
- Agents must maintain appropriate accounts and records (*) of their business activities.
- Agents must ensure that all staff are qualified and capable to handle responsibilities delegated to them.
- Agents must handle information sensitively and in accordance with data protection legislation.
If you think some of these proposals sound woolly and are wondering exactly what they mean, the full consultation explains in detail what will need to be done to comply with each point.
And regulation just got serious because, in future, a serious failure to meet the new standards could mean regulatory or criminal action being taken against an agency and/or its staff. So this consultation is a really important one and is well worth contributing to if you have strong views.
To read the full consultation paper and to have your say click here.