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Lib Dems want licences for estate agents

10 May 2004
A top Liberal Democrat MP has criticised the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors' (RICS) guide.

Shadow trade and industry secretary Malcolm Bruce has believes the code, which sets out procedures for the estate agency industry: "simply does not address the fundamental problem.

"We need a compulsory licensing system, run by the industry, which imposes minimum standards and training requirements for estate agents."

Mr Bruce also criticised the "empty solution" of the Office of Fair Trading's report, published March 23rd of this year, which called for price competition and changes to the Estate Agents Act:

"The OFT came up with an empty solution which did nothing to address the fact that anyone can set up as an estate agent."

Mr Bruce believes his simple suggestion of a compulsory licensing system is exactly "what the OFT should have introduced in March, after spending two years investigating the problem."

According to Mr Bruce, £118 billion worth of property transactions are still being dealt with each year by estate agents who have not signed up to a code of practice.

"My advice to the anyone looking to sell their home or buying for the first time is. . . if the estate agent is not a member of the Ombudsman, think very carefully about who you are letting handle the biggest investment you will ever make.

"If the Government isn't going to provide protection, you need to do it yourself."