Mastermind of agency reforms Lord Best has defended his proposed regulations, insisting there is no intention to throw agents with years of experience out of the sector.
The peer, who chaired the Regulation of Property Agents (RoPA), said he had received letters from concerned agents who were worried that their decades in the industry will count for nothing when new qualification requirements are introduced. Without them, agents will not be allowed to practise.
The RoPA report has already ruled out grandfathering and the peer read out one such letter at yesterday’s Guild of Property Professionals’ annual conference.
In it, the agent said her clients were happy with her and would be disappointed that she would have to close as she feared she would fail the exams.
Lord Best said: “It is not the case that just because your clients say you are doing a good job that you are.
“You have to know the stuff as an agent, not as a client.
“It will not be that difficult if you already know your stuff.
“The exams will be phased in with separate qualifications for different elements.
“If you fail the exam that doesn’t mean you will be thrown out. You will just need to resit it.”
He described the exams as equivalent to A-levels, which he said “aren’t too difficult”.
Agents also heard from James Munro, head of the National Trading Standards Estate and Lettings Agency Team, which has launched a survey tracking compliance with rules on disclosing referral fees.
He said: “This is not a campaign to ban referral fees.
“The Government wants them to be transparent: that means you tell people you are getting a referral fee and how much you are getting – it is the latter where there is an issue.”
Munro also reminded agents they must disclose all material information in listings including tenure terms, and added that they could one day have to include pollution levels.