By Tim McKibbin - REINSW CEO
||Over recent years we have campaigned very hard for and against on a range of issues at
the core of the real estate profession and on many occasions, I am proud to say, we have won the fight.
Our most recent battle, which is still ongoing, is against Minister for Fair Trading Matthew Mason-Cox’s proposed removal of licensing requirements for agents servicing large commercial clients.
The removal of protections under the Property, Stock and Business Agents Act 2002 is being fast-tracked without going through the prescribed review process.
Not only do we strongly oppose these proposed exemptions, we are disturbed by the very nature of the way in which the NSW Government is going about fast-tracking this important regulatory change under the guise of cutting red tape.
These licensing regulations were established to protect consumers and other third parties. Removing the requirement for large commercial agents to hold a licence is pure nonsense and something we strongly oppose.
World without regulation
Removing these licensing requirements means the protections associated with trust accounts are lost. Further, material facts in relation to premises no longer need disclosure. This leaves the door open for inexperienced and incompetent providers.
We believe the introduction of this exemption will erode the confidence and security that the current regulatory environment provides those who seek to invest in the commercial market, in particular foreign investors who see our market as a safe haven. Their confidence is boosted by the lack of complaints and problems, which can be attributed to compliance with the Act.
The proposed lack of regulation could enable inexperienced, untrained and incompetent agents to act inappropriately on complex transactions. If the current training is irrelevant, as suggested by proponents of the exemptions, then it should be reviewed and modified to become relevant, rather than be abolished.
It is frightening to think that, under the proposed changes, people who have had their licences suspended or cancelled would have no impediment to rejoining the profession. This is clearly a huge concern.
There are very serious consequences associated with the remake of the Property, Stock and Business Agents Regulation 2003 if it were to include the exemption. Although the clock is ticking, we will continue to lobby hard to ensure the rights of consumers, tenants, prospective buyers, buyers and other third parties are protected.
This article was first published in the September 2014 edition of the REINSW Real Estate Journal.