Jersey buyers left vulnerable by unregulated agents

Buyers are currently left vulnerable to bad practice by estate agents in Jersey, Propertymark said.

The estate agency member group said agents in Jersey should be required to obtain professional membership before trading.

Jersey’s Economic and International Affairs Scrutiny Panel is reviewing whether to regulate estate agents on the island.

Propertymark raised concerns about some agents’ level of knowledge about the properties they are marketing, specifically about the legal requirements needed.

Mark Hayward, chief policy advisor of Propertymark, said: “The absence of a regulatory framework that requires agents to be a member of a professional body and adhere to a code of practice leaves consumers vulnerable to bad practice and questionable standards.

“This means there is no consistent, transparent route to redress for consumers when things go wrong, and agents are not held to account against the same standards. Regulation would level the playing field and encourage a more joined-up approach.

“Monitoring compliance with a statutory code of practice requires regulatory oversight which is why estate agents in Jersey should, in the first instance, be legally required to attain professional membership before being permitted to practice.”

The review follows up on the Residential Property Transactions Review Panel (2018) report which recommended that the Chief Minister should introduce a requirement that all Jersey estate agents should be members of an approved professional body and to adhere to a code of conduct.

As part of the steps needed to regulate the sector, Propertymark says that requiring all practicing agents to have appropriate training, be sufficiently qualified, and commit to continued professional development to practice would play an important factor. It says that this is due to the continued changes in day-to-day practices due to legislative changes, the buying and selling of property are complicated tasks governed by complex areas of law.

Propertymark has advised that the Jersey government widen the scope of regulation to include both letting agents and block management agents so that the whole housing market is under the same regulatory umbrella in order to reduce confusion and inconsistency.

Alongside this, it also has advised that regulation be combined with adequately resourced enforcement agencies that are not wasting their limited resources on administrative licensing schemes.

The Economic and International Affairs Scrutiny Panel is currently drafting its report.


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