RICS launches property standards board to protect against 'cowboy agents'

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has teamed up with number of trade associations, redress schemes and consumer champions to improve standards in residential property.

It has launched a new body, The Property Standards Board, today in association with the National Association of Estate Agents and the Association of Residential Lettings Agents to set standards across residential property.

It will develop codes of practice for estate agents, lettings agents and property managers and 'become a focal point for better consumer information on buying, selling and renting property'.

The initiative is the bodies' response to Sir Bryan Carsberg's 2008 report into residential property. The RICS said it believes that common and consistent standards for residential agents are long over due and supports attempts to seek government endorsement of the board, giving it power to set standards for all property agents.

Property Week has campaigned for better regulation of residential estate agents through its 'Regulate Resi Now' campaign.

Gillian Charlesworth, RICS director of external affairs, said: "It is clear that the HIP has failed to improve the consumer's experience of buying and selling homes. We believe that the introduction of basic standards for all agents will provide consumers with better service and better information on what to expect from agents they come across in property transactions.

"Home purchase and renting are far too important in people's lives to be left to a sector with no commonly applied and enforced standards and where anyone can set up shop. We want the industry to do this for itself but look to government and consumer bodies to help us to make it happen."

The Property Standards Board is chaired by Dianne Hayter, former chief executive of the European Parliamentary Labour Party and consumer champion.

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