Change To Estate Agents Act: Before Commons Within Days !!

Date Published 12 October 2012

Vince Cable’s amendment to the Estate Agents Act has now been tabled and is to go before Parliament next week as part of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill.

It follows the hush-hush consultation on the move designed to allow new business models into the market which will be able to operate outside the legislation.

Meanwhile, it has emerged in an answer to a Freedom of Information request that neither Rightmove nor Tesco – both on the list of those who were consulted – apparently responded.

The FoI request to Cable’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) was put by Peter Rouski, director of Abbeyfords in Widnes, Cheshire.

He received this response: `You have requested copies, redacted if necessary, of the responses given by Tesco and Rightmove to the consultation relating to the proposed EAA’79 amendments. The Department does not hold this information.`

See next story for responses to the consultation.

The amendment to the Estate Agents Act is part of the immensely long Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, which encompasses everything from performers’ rights and the Competition Act to the abolition of the OFT (which is to be replaced by the Competition and Markets Authority or CMA).

The Bill is due to have its committee stage and third reading in the Commons next Tuesday and Wednesday, October 16 and 17, before going to the Lords.

The amendments were published under the headline ‘Paving the way to business freedom’.

According to BIS, the Bill will exempt `intermediary companies from the Estate Agents Act, to encourage new businesses to flourish`.

Elsewhere, another explanation reads: `Amend the Estate Agents Act 1979 in order to take intermediaries, such as private sale portals, out of its scope.`

Notably, both of the explanations omit the word ‘passive’ before the word ‘intermediaries’.

The actual amendment which has been tabled reads as follows:

Estate agency work
Secretary Vince Cable
To move the following Clause:
In section 1 of the Estate Agents Act 1979 (estate agency work), for subsection (4)
(4) This Act does not apply to the following things when done by a person who does no other things which fall within subsection (1) above:
(a) publishing advertisements or disseminating information;
(b) providing a means by which:
(i) a person who wishes to acquire or dispose of an interest in land can, in response to such an advertisement or dissemination of information, make direct contact with a
person who wishes to dispose of or, as the case may be, acquire an interest in land;
(ii) the persons mentioned in sub-paragraph (i) can continue to communicate directly with each other.

NAEA President Mark Hayward said: `The NAEA continues to be concerned about these measures as we believe that they will erode consumer protection.

`The Government must take into account vital issues for consumers such as including the currently unregulated lettings industry within the definition of the Estate Agents Act.

`We continue to make these points very strongly to ministers.`

The link to the progress of the Bill is below. See also next story.