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New Regime for Auctioneers, Letting Agents and Property Management Agents

The Property Services Regulatory Authority (PSRA) was established under the Property Service (Regulation) Act 2011 which was passed on the 30th May 2012.

The PSRA has 3 main powers:

  1. The powers to set and enforce standards in the  provision of property services by Auctioneers, Letting Agents and Property Management Agents;
  2. The provision of redress mechanisms for consumers of these services; and
  3. The responsibility for the publication of residential  property sales prices and the establishment and maintenance of a commercial leases database (The Residential Property Price Register).

The PSRA took over the licensing of Auctioneers, Estate Agents and Letting Agents from the District Court and Revenue Commissioners.

It is now an offence to provide a property service without a licence and penalties apply if property services are provided without a valid licence. It applies to all types of property such as land, houses, apartments, antiques, furniture, art, livestock, etc.

There are 4 distinct categories of “Property Service “and these are defined by the Act as:

  1. The auction of property other than land;
  2. The purchase or sale of land;
  3.  The letting of land; and
  4.  Property management services.

You must have a separate licence for each service you provide.

Section 2 of the Act defines classes of Property Service Providers (PSP) namely

1)      Property Service Employer (which means a Company, Partnership or Sole Trader who provides property services);

2)      An Employee of a Property Service Provider;

3)      A Principal Officer of a Property Service Employer;

4)      An Independent Contractor who is an individual who provides property services but who has no employees who provide such services.

It is therefore necessary for each company or partnership PSP to hold a licence (for the service, or services they provide) in the company or partnership name and also each principal officer and employee of the company or partnership who is a PSP must have the same category of licence in their personal name.

It is important to note that Section 4 of the Act provides that the principal officer and employees of a company or partnership cannot become a PSP for a service unless their employer is licensed to provide that same service.

Each licence application will require:

  1. Evidence of qualification;
  2. Professional Indemnity Insurance;
  3. Accountants’ report;
  4. Tax clearance;
  5.  Certified certificate of incorporation (in company cases);
  6. Certified certificate of business name (if applicable);
  7. The licence fee is €1,000 per company/partnership/sole trader and €100 per employee; and
  8. Reference as to character (Garda vetting); and
  9. Contribution to the Property Services Compensation Fund (‘The Fund’).  The Fund is to compensate clients of licensees who sustain a loss due to the dishonesty of a licensee during the provision of a property service.  This is currently €200 per company and €50 per employee.

This Reform is long overdue and provides a much needed regulatory framework for the sector.  As a result of this legislation there has been a radical change to the way in which licences are issued and regulated.  It also gives consumers added protection.

Trish Hynes is a Solicitor in FitzGerald Solicitors specialising in Licencing Law.  FitzGerald Solicitors is one of Munster’s leading Commercial law firms and is located at 6 Lapps Quay, Cork.

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