Get tougher on estate agents

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors is calling for more action to regulate estate agents after the Queen’s Speech last week recommended agents join a redress scheme.

The Consumers, Estate Agents and Redress Bill is a step towards increased regulation in the sector and would offer greater protection to consumers.

Under the measures estate agents will be required to keep records and allow inspection of their work.

The bill will also bring together watchdogs the National Consumer Council, Energywatch and Postwatch.

But despite the Queen’s Speech referring to the measures as the “regulation of estate agents”, the industry says more needs to be done.

Steven Gould, director of regulation at RICS, says: “This is a missed opportunity. While we welcome the government’s commitment to introduce independent redress we feel this alone is insufficient.

“All consumers should know that when they walk into an estate agency it is properly regulated. The proposals don’t offer this. Reputable estate agents, professional bodies, trade associations and Which? have been calling for a proper system of regulation for years”

He adds: “Offering independent redress is locking the stable door after the horse has bolted because the customer already has a complaint.”

But Stephen Smith, director of housing at Legal & General, says there is no reason why estate agents aren’t already following guidelines.

He says: “We have a network of franchised estate agents that are already members of the Ombudsman and the National Association of Estate Agents schemes.”