Government says banned letting agents can sell property and vice versa. We're speechless!

This is an editorial by Rosalind Renshaw from Property Industry Eye:

The Government has no plans to ban estate agents who have been banned from lettings, and no plans to ban prohibited letting agents from sales.

Ministers also have no plans to make publicly available a register of banned letting agents – due to come into force next year.

Housing minister Gavin Barwell made both these points clear in written answers to questions from Labour MP Helen Hayes, who represents Dulwich and West Norwood.

Barwell insisted that sales and lettings are completely different activities.

Sales agents can currently be banned under the Estate Agents Act, but can set up as letting agents, even if they have only just left jail. This situation will be allowed to continue.

Letting agents cannot currently be banned but this is due to change next year under the new Housing and Planning Act. A blacklist of banned letting agents and landlords will not be available to the public: it will only be available for local authorities and central government to inspect.

Banned letting agents, even those with criminal convictions and who may also have just come out of jail, will be able to practise as sales agents – despite being on a blacklist that few will be able to see.

Hayes, a member of the CLG Select Committee, first asked what assessment had been made of the potential merits of extending a ban from operating as a letting agent or sales agent to include a ban on operating as a sales agent or letting agent.

Barwell’s response was: “The Housing and Planning Act 2016 introduces a package of measures to help local authorities crack down on rogue landlords and letting agents.

“They include the ability to seek a banning order against a landlord or letting or managing agent who has been convicted of a banning order offence. This provision is expected to come into force in 2017.

“There are separate powers to ban sales agents under the Estate Agents Act 1979.

“Letting agents and sales agents carry out different functions and operate under different legislation.

“We do not currently have any plans to introduce legislation that would ban someone from being a sales agent where they have been banned from being a letting agent or vice versa.”

Hayes secondly asked what assessment has been made of the potential merits of requiring a local authority to keep publicly accessible lists of banned letting agents to prevent such agents from being able to operate in other local authority areas.

To this, Barwell replied: “The Housing & Planning Act 2016 contains a package of measures to help local authorities crack down on rogue landlords who exploit their tenants by renting out unsafe and substandard accommodation. The measures include a database of rogue landlords and property agents who have been convicted of certain offences or received at least two civil penalties for a breach of housing legislation.

“The database will enable local authorities to keep track of those landlords and property agents and target their enforcement action.

“Only DCLG and local housing authorities will be able to access the database, although the data will be made available publicly in an anonymised format.

“Access to the database is being restricted in this way for data protection reasons and because making the database publicly available would effectively blacklist all those individuals and companies on the database and prevent them from continuing to be involved in renting out or managing property, which is not the purpose of the database.

“Where a local authority believes that a landlord or property agent should no longer be involved in the renting out or management of property, they will be able to seek a banning order from the First Tier Tribunal.”

How are the public ever going to trust estate agents if the government don't take a lead? Truly shocking!  Using an NAEA or ARLA member agent should help.


Paul Bonett  F.N.A.E.A.  M.A.R.L.A.