Written answers

Thursday, 6 May 2021

Department of Justice and Equality

House Sales

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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149. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality her plans to regulate for the purchase of buying a property with particular reference to the role of an estate agent given that it is currently normal procedure for a buyer to be unrepresented by an agent resulting in an inequality of arms in the process; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23509/21]

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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The Property Services (Regulation) Act 2011, established the Property Services Regulatory Authority (PSRA), a statutory regulatory body specifically tasked with responsibility for licensing and regulating property services providers (auctioneers, estate agents, letting agents and property management agents) with a view to ensuring high standards in the provision of property services.

Under the Act, any business or individual who provides a property service (other than those who are subject to a similar licence or authentication scheme in another EU Member State) must hold a valid licence from the PSRA. The licensing of property services providers ensures that licensees comply with certain standards aimed at ensuring protection for their clients and users of their services. For example, licensees must possess specified minimum qualifications, have available to them professional indemnity insurance, pay an annual contribution to the Compensation Fund, and keep records of all offers received in respect of land which is offered for sale.

The purpose of the Compensation Fund is to provide compensation to clients of licensees who have sustained a loss as a result of the dishonesty of a licensee as well as individuals to whom a refund of a deposit is due from the licensee.

Professional indemnity insurance provides cover in respect of any description of civil liability on the part of a licensee arising from any provision of property services.

The PSRA is empowered to investigate complaints of improper conduct made against licensed property services providers (including complaints made by purchasers or potential purchasers of property), and to carry out investigations on its own initiative for the purpose of ensuring compliance by property services providers with their statutory obligations. Improper conduct is defined in the Act as the commission by a licensee of an act which renders him or her no longer a fit and proper person to provide property services, the commission of a contravention of a specified provision of the Act or of a provision of regulations made under the Act, or the giving by the licensee of a statement of advised market value or advised letting value of land (including buildings) which is clearly unreasonable.

It is open to a purchaser or potential purchaser of property to engage any professional assistance that he or she considers necessary.

While my Department keeps the operation of the Property Services (Regulation) Act 2011 under review, I have no plans at present to amend the Act in the manner suggested by the Deputy.


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