Way back in 2002, and in response to the then Government’s consultation ‘Improving the standard of residential leasehold management’, the Leasehold Advisory Service; LEASE said: “From research, elsewhere (France and Australia) it is clear that a licensing system is fully achievable, acceptable by the industry and effective in regulation of standards. It is clear that this is the ideal, which should be pursued.”
16 years later today’s government has published its intentions in a 33 page document:
In summary, the government intends to:
- Extend the previous commitment of regulating letting agents to include all managing agents – to protect leaseholders and freeholders alike;
- Create an independent regulator, covering letting and managing agents;
- Create a single, mandatory and legally enforceable Code of Practice for letting and managing agents;
- Require letting and managing agents to have a nationally recognised qualification to practice. Agents will also be required to undertake continuing professional development;
- Propose that criminal sanctions will be imposed on agents who practice despite not meeting minimum standards;
- Empower leaseholders to switch managing agents where they perform poorly or break the terms of their contract; and
- Simplify the Right to Manage process for leaseholders.
Now, governments have a habit of saying lots and doing little. But Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for this area of government, has a habit of doing what he says he’ll do. I have no doubt therefore change is upon us – and that’s good for the industry – and good for leaseholders too. I welcome it and I hope it’s sooner rather than later.