Regulation of estate agents, auctioneers and management agents
Who regulates property services providers?
The Property Services Regulatory Authority (PSRA) is responsible for licensing and regulating property services providers in Ireland. Property service providers (PSPs) are people or companies involved in:
- Auctioning property other than land
- Buying, selling or letting land
- Property management services
PSPs include auctioneers, estate agents, letting agents and management agents.
The PRSA is also responsible for:
- Investigating consumers complaints and operating a redress system
- Setting and enforcing standards for the provision of property services
- Maintaining a compensation fund
- Maintaining the Residential Property Price Register
- Maintaining the Commercial Lease Register
- Maintaining the Register of Licensed Property Service Providers
What is a PSRA licence?
All PSPs must have a PSRA licence. A PSP can only provide the service or services that they have a licence for. The PSRA maintains and publishes a register of all licensed property services providers. The register lists the name, number, licence type and location of each property services provider.
There are 4 different licence types:
- Licence type A - The auction of property other than land (for example, fine art, antiques, animals)
- Licence type B - The purchase or sale (by auction or private treaty) of land (including buildings)
- Licence type C - The letting of land (including buildings)
- Licence type D - Property management services
PSPs can apply for their licences online at licences.ie. Licences are valid for 1 year, and must be renewed annually. The PRSA has published a Guide to becoming a licensed property services provider to help PSPs understand the requirements of being licensed and how to complete the application forms.
Using a licensed PSP gives you consumer protection. If you are going to use a PSP, you should check the PSP is licensed by the PSRA. You can do this by:
- Checking the Register of Licensed Property Service Providers
- Asking to see the property services provider's PSRA licence card
- Looking for the PSRA business licence, which must be on display in the PSP’s office or at an auction
It is illegal to provide a property service without a licence and PSPs found to be trading without one are subject to sanction, a fine and/or possible imprisonment. If you think a PSP is providing a property service without a licence you should report this to the PRSA at email@example.com.
Using a property services provider
Advice on PSPs and the services provided by them is available in the Guide for users of property services providers in Ireland. This guide provides information on what to expect when using a licensed PSP. PSP’s should behave professionally when delivering their services and follow the regulations and Code of Practice set out for the industry.
When a property owner uses a PSP to sell, let or manage a property, the PSP must give them a Property Services Agreement (PSA) or Letter of Engagement (LOE). This is a legal requirement. The PSA or LOE is an agreed contract between the PSP and their client. The document should clearly outline what property services are being provided and all costs involved. A PSA or LOE is a legal and binding contract between the agent and their client.
Further information and a sample of a Property services agreement (PSA) or letter of engagement (LOE) is available on the PSRA website.
The PRSA has published a protocol and guidelines for how PSP’s can work safely during COVID-19. They set out what aspects of a PSP’s work can continue during COVID-19 restrictions. The documents also detail how certain practices should be modified during the pandemic. For example, the guidelines describe how estate agents should manage viewings as restrictions are eased, by only arranging viewings by appointment.
Complaints and compensation
Anyone can make a complaint against a licensed PSP about improper conduct, which happened when the PSP was providing a property service. These complaints are made to the PSRA. There are minimum standards (pdf) and a Code of Practice (pdf) outlining how PSP’s should behave when delivering their services, and these are used when investigating complaints. Information about how complaints are investigated, and how to use the complaint form is available on the PRSA website.
The PRSA administers a compensation fund, which is funded by the property services sector. This fund provides compensation to clients of licensed PSPs, who have sustained losses due to the dishonesty of a licensed PSP. In order to make a claim for compensation, the licensed PSP must have had a valid licence when the property service was provided. For more details on the process of making a claim, read the PSRA’s guide to making a claim.
Commercial Leases Register
The PSRA maintains and publishes the Commercial Leases Register, which contains information about all commercial leases entered into since 1 January 2010. Commercial leases include office, retail, industrial, and agricultural leases. In fact nearly all leases where stamp duty is paid to the Revenue Commissioners are commercial leases.
Any tenant (person, company, organisation or public body) of a commercial lease must make a Commercial Lease Return to the PSRA when starting a new lease. This is a statutory requirement. A Commercial Lease Return can be made free of charge using this online form.
The purpose of the Commercial Leases Register is to provide transparency in the commercial rental market. It may be helpful if you are about to enter into a commercial lease, because it allows you to view the cost of similar leases.
Contact the Commercial Leases Unit of the PSRA on firstname.lastname@example.org for further information about making a return.
Residential Property Price Register
The PSRA maintains and publishes the Residential Property Price Register, which includes the date of sale, price and address of all residential properties purchased in Ireland since 1 January 2010. The Register is produced using stamp duty declarations to the Revenue Commissioners, and is not intended to be viewed as a property price index.