Lewis refuses to regulate estate agents

During a panel discussion at the annual myhomemove conference this week Mark Hayward, managing director of the National Association of Estate Agents, was asked what he wanted from the housing minister more than anything during this parliament.

He replied: “I’ve asked him for regulation of our industry and he said no. He told me it was anti-competitive because if all agents were licensed he believed we would set our fees higher and that would not benefit the consumer.”

Hayward said this was not the case and asked Lewis to reconsider but the housing minister failed to respond to a request for comment.

Currently it is possible to be released from prison having served time for robbery and days later get a job as an estate agent with access to the keys to people’s homes.

There is no requirement for employers to run criminal conviction checks or for agents to disclose this history.

The NAEA encourages members to take professional qualifications but as membership is not obligatory, standards of estate agents vary wildly across the country.

Estate agents are principally regulated by the Estate Agents Act 1979 and the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

In addition to this statutory regulation, since 1 October 2008 all estate agents in the UK who engage in residential estate agency work are required to belong to an approved redress scheme dealing with complaints about the buying and selling of residential property. This is a requirement of the Consumers, Estate Agents and Redress Act 2007.

Since 1 April 2014 the regulation of estate agents across the UK has been carried out by Powys County Council where the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team assesses whether or not an individual or business in any part of the UK is fit to carry out estate agency work within the terms of the Estate Agents Act 1979.

It took over this enforcement role from the Office of Fair Trading.