ESTATE agents could be regulated by December next year, if a proposition lodged by a backbencher is successful.
The proposal from Deputy Max Andrews calls on the Economic Development Minister to establish statutory regulatory bodies and schemes for estate agents, and follows concerns highlighted by the Jersey Estate Agents Association in 2021 about the lack of regulation in the Island.
Estate agents in Jersey are currently not required to hold any professional qualifications, belong to a professional body, or abide by a code of conduct.
A review carried out by the Economic and International Affairs Scrutiny Panel found that only 40% of Jersey estate agents had voluntarily become members of a redress scheme dealing with disputes between clients and agencies, a figure low in comparison with other jurisdictions.
In the UK, it has been a mandatory requirement to join an approved consumer redress scheme since 2008. A survey of 65 estate agents also discovered that 86% believed regulation was ‘necessary’.
But, Environment Minister Jonathan Renouf recently said there were no plans to introduce legislation.
Deputy Renouf said that the existing Consumer Protection Law was sufficient to protect customers, and there was no need to introduce bespoke estate agent regulation because many estate agents in Jersey ‘already adopt good practice’.
Deputy Andrews has now responded, saying there is ‘no empirical evidence’ to reinforce that statement.
In his proposition, which calls for the changes by December 2024, he said: ‘I believe there is a need to ensure that estate agents are members of a statutory regulatory body and redress scheme. As it stands, estate agents can access the market with ease without undertaking professional qualifications when dealing with transactions that are the biggest investments some people will make in their lifetime.
‘There needs to be a more robust process in place to ensure estate agents are regulated to improve the experiences of those who utilise estate agent services.’
He added: ‘I am therefore asking the Minister for Economic Development, Tourism, Sport and Culture [Deputy Kirsten Morel] to consult with stakeholders prior to implementing a statutory regulatory body and independent redress scheme which is to be introduced no later than December 2024.’
Local estate agents have recently renewed their calls for regulation, with many seeing Deputy Renouf’s decision as a step backward.
Harry Trower, director at Broadlands, previously said ‘the minister just cannot be bothered when all indications from the previous government were [that it was] very keen for this to happen,’ while Gill Hunt, propertymark regional executive and director at Christie’s Hunt Estates, added: ‘We’re confident that we want to keep pushing for regulation locally, because we feel it’s important. We want to raise standards, improve the situation, ensure agents are the absolute best that they can be.’
And Former Environment Minister Steve Luce also said that the absence of progress from the new government was ‘disappointing after the Scrutiny Panel worked so hard to produce such compelling recommendations’.
He added: ‘It’s a shame we’re not better regulated’.