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Extra four months for licences expiring between now and end August
Measure necessitated by Covid-19
The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD, has agreed to provide a 4-month extension for property services sector licences. The measure, which applies to licences due to expire between 7 May and the end of August, is to enable property service providers to meet their licence renewal obligations despite the COVID-19 restrictions.
Announcing the measure Minister Flanagan said:
“Given that it is an offence to provide property services without a valid licence, I think this will be a welcome measure. It could have been difficult for providers to meet their licence renewal obligations during the COVID-19 restrictions, but this will assist auctioneers, estate agents, letting agents and property management agents to meet their statutory obligations, while also ensuring that requirements which protect those selling, buying, or renting property will remain effective.”
The Minister also consented to the Property Services Regulatory Authority (PSRA) making Regulations to amend the relevant professional indemnity insurance rules, the Property Services (Regulation) Act 2011 (Professional Indemnity Insurance) Regulations 2012, to ensure that the obligation on licensees to have professional indemnity insurance available to them will continue to apply to the 4 month extension period.
“It is a condition of the licence extension that licensees who benefit from the four month extension of their licences must ensure that there is professional indemnity insurance available to them over that period.”
Currently the PSRA licenses approximately 1,800 businesses (property services employers and independent contractors) and 4,000 employees annually. Licensing occurs throughout the year, however, for historic reasons, peak licensing renewal occurs on 5 July annually, involving the processing of approximately 3,000 licence renewal applications.
The Minister has consented to the Property Services Regulatory Authority making two sets of Regulations:
– the Property Services Regulation Act 2011 (Extension of Licences) Regulations 2020,
– the Property Services Regulation Act 2011 (Professional Indemnity Insurance) (Amendment) Regulations 2020.
The Property Services Regulatory Authority (PSRA) has responsibility for licensing and regulating property services providers (auctioneers, estate agents, letting agents and property management agents).
Under the Property (Services) Regulation Act 2011, 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. Licences are valid for a period of one year and must be renewed annually. The requirements apply to the sale, by whatever means, of land (including houses, apartments and other buildings), the auction of property other than land (including animals, art and antiques), the letting of land and accommodation, and to property management services.
Both businesses that provide property services, and their employees who provide such services, are required to be licensed. It is an offence to provide a property service without a licence and the PSRA can prosecute unlicensed property services providers.
The licensing of property services providers ensures that licensees comply with certain standards aimed at ensuring protection for their clients. For example, licensees must possess specified minimum qualifications, have available to them professional indemnity insurance and pay an annual contribution to the Compensation Fund.
The 2011 Act imposes a number of detailed requirements when applying to renew a licence. Both the Minister and the PSRA are aware that licensees may not be in a position to comply with all of these requirements at the current time; for example, they may not be able to engage with their accountants to ensure that the required accountant’s report on renewal is available.
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