What is RoPA?
In 2017, the May Government announced its plans to improve the housing market, and went as far as calling it a ‘broken market’ that needs ‘fixing’. The Government proposed that property agents, meaning estate agents, letting agents and managing agents are all to be regulated.
In October 2018, the Regulation of Property Agents Working Group (RoPA) was set up by then Housing Minister Heather Wheeler and Lord Best was appointed as its Chair. An independent crossbencher of the House of Lords since 2001, Lord Best has extensive experience from his years working across the housing sector.
Not if, how.
Regulation is coming, RoPA isn’t about if, it’s about how. The main task for RoPA was to advise on how the proposal can be realised.
Lawyers, doctors and accountants are all regulated, it was only a matter of time that the property profession whose conduct directly affect the wellbeing of many would have their entry standards raised. We, in England, can call upon the learning from the implementation of such mandatory qualification in Wales and Scotland.
Potential RoPA Requirements
RoPA recommends a level 3 Ofqual for sales and lettings agents, whilst block managing agents need a level 4. This is taking the middle ground between Welsh and Scottish standards. In contrast to Wales and Scotland, this level of requirement allows us to have all personnel carrying out reserved activities to be licensed.
Reserved activities refer to the list of property-related activities only licensed firms and licensed individuals would be permitted to carry out, should the RoPA recommended framework be implemented.
Will the sector welcome RoPA?
With change, often come costs. The fees for individuals and firms to gain qualification and licences can impact property agents. As the economical stress from the change in mortgage relief, tenant fees ban and uncertainty in Brexit put pressure on agents, landlords and buyers, any additional cost levied on the industry will be closely watched.
We are also preparing a similar analysis for the residential block management sector and would welcome input from readers.