CIH Scotland unveils findings of evaluation on impact of letting agent qualifications and CPD
The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) Scotland has today published the findings of an independent review of qualification and training requirements for letting agencies - showing they have improved practitioner professionalism.
Last year CIH Scotland appointed Indigo House to evaluate whether the existing mandatory continuous professional development (CPD) requirements for letting agents:
- had enhanced and professionalised practice by letting agents;
- can be further improved for letting agents and tenants; and
- signals lessons for other parts of the rented sector.
This evaluation, funded by SafeDeposits Scotland Charitable Trust, provides the first authoritative examination of the regulation of letting agencies in professionalising practice and their rationale for the CPD requirements.
It sets out the benefits of investing in housing qualifications and ongoing professional development to improve practice across the whole rented sector- letting agents, private landlords and social landlords. The report also captures the feedback of landlords, letting agents and crucially tenants as well as looking at all available data sets in making its determinations and recommendations.
Callum Chomczuk, national director for CIH Scotland, said: “Housing qualifications and CPD improve practitioner practice. That is the ultimate conclusion of this report. Legislation passed in 2014 ensured letting agents in Scotland became the only part of the housing sector where it is necessary to hold a relevant qualification and undertake additional training and it is clear it is improving the work of letting agent sector.
“Given the findings in the report we believe now is the time for the housing sector and the Scottish Government to recommit to a principle of housing education and CPD across all tenures and consider how it can be adopted in a proportionate and impactful way.”
Responding to the report, Isobel Thomson, chief executive of safeagent, said: “The Letting Agent Code of Practice is there to improve outcomes for all those served by the PRS in Scotland – it’s why we align our training so closely to it.
“From supporting enforcement to helping landlords understand their responsibilities and tenants their rights, agents are the glue that holds the PRS together. Investing in them as professionals is crucial – as the CIH’s review of qualifications rightly points out.
“Embedding professional development in law was the starting point in 2014 – but qualifications must be accessible and affordable. The CIH’s review has reinforced how important it is for Scottish Government, training providers and the wider lettings industry to work together to ensure this is the case.
“Agents need to be able to incorporate professional development into their working day, so being flexible is key. That’s why we offer a blend of formal qualification, varied CPD packages as well as micro-learning modules – so that agents can build a programme that suits them.
“As the review highlights, there are some agents that still see training requirements as a burden instead of an essential tool. We must change that by focusing not only on how accreditation helps tenants and landlords, but also on how it helps agents be competitive in the market.
“We need a mix of carrot and stick. Enforcement is critical, but so is incentivising professional development and making sure agents see the benefits. This will help encourage compliance, rather than impose it, and is the only way to bring about a wider cultural shift which will be more sustainable in the long run.
“Industry training is there to ensure agents can stay abreast of the knowledge they need to operate effectively. There is so much good work being done already in the PRS and celebrating those successes must be part of the conversation.
“We all have a collective responsibility to bring about this change in perception. safeagent listens to our agents’ needs and experiences, as well as wider industry and regulatory guidance, to inform training material that can make a difference.
“Nearly 900 learners have started our Foundation Lettings Course Scotland – we work closely with attendees to ensure all content is informed by their experience, to benefit those who will complete the training in the future.
“The CIH’s review is another important piece of the evidence base we’ll be using to make sure our training is as useful and impactful as it can be.”