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No overarching regulation

The private rented sector is the second largest tenure in England behind owner occupation. The growth of the sector has prompted an increased focus on management standards and on the activities of letting and managing agents.

There is currently no overarching statutory regulation of private sector letting or managing agents in England, although they are subject to consumer protection law and specific provisions in relation to the charging of fees and membership of redress schemes.

A commitment to introduce regulation

After 2010, Governments resisted calls for increased regulation of letting and managing agents in England. Instead, they pointed to an existing range of powers under consumer protection legislation.

There was a change of direction in 2017 when the Sajid Javid, then Secretary of State at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), announced that action would be taken to regulate letting agents during the Conservative Party’s 2017 Conference.

A call for evidence was issued in October 2017 with submissions invited up to 29 November. The outcome was published in April 2018. The Government restated the intention to regulate letting and property management agents. Minimum entry standards would be set, and an independent body would carry out the regulatory function.

The Regulation of Property Agents Working Group chaired by Lord Best was established in 2018. Their remit was to develop the regulatory model. The Group reported in 2019 and included recommendations on:

  • a model for an independent property-agent regulator, including how it will operate and how it will enforce compliance
  • a single, mandatory and legally-enforceable Code of Practice for property agents
  • a system of minimum entry requirements and continuing professional development for property agents
  • clarifying processes and charges for leaseholders

On 15 May 2023 the Housing Minister responded to a PQ on plans to take forward the Group’s recommendations saying:

The Government is considering the recommendations in the final report on the regulation of property agents from Lord Best’s working group. We will continue to work with industry on improving best practice. Announcements will be set out in the usual way. 

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