Property-Reform-effect
Brendan Coates

Brendan Coates

Real estate and property industry reforms start on 23 March 2020.


Changes to the laws that govern agents in the real estate and property industry in NSW start on 23 March 2020.

Agents working in the industry must understand how these apply to them, before the new laws start.

Below we list the general information. For more information on each licence, see the navigation to the right (on desktop) or at the bottom (on mobile).

What are the changes?

Restructured Licensing System

Licence types

The licensing system is being significantly restructured, with licences and certificates of registration in three categories:

  • Real estate (with or without restrictions)
  • Stock and station
  • Strata management.

The current real estate agent, business agent and on-site residential property manager licences are being rolled into the real estate agent’s licence category. Under the new unrestricted real estate agent’s licence, an agent may carry out the following functions:

  • business agent
  • on-site residential property manager, and
  • real estate sale or leasing functions.

As part of the transition to the new licensing system, people who hold a licence or certificate of registration as a business agent/salesperson, on-site residential property manager/registered manager or real estate agent/salesperson may be issued with a real estate agent’s licence or certificate of registration, restricted to carry out functions relevant to the same area of practice.

For example, a current business agent’s licence holder will transition to a real estate agent’s licence that is restricted to business agent functions.

A person may later apply to have the restriction removed from their new licence or certificate of registration, after they have completed the relevant qualification requirements.

There is no change to the stock and station and strata management categories, which will continue to be issued as separate licences or certificates of registration.

Licence levels

The new system includes 3 licence levels. These are determined by the applicant’s qualifications and experience in the sector:

  • certificate of registration as an assistant agent
  • class 2 licence as a licensed agent
  • class 1 licence as a licensed agent or licensee in charge of a business

New entrants to the industry need to obtain a certificate of registration as an assistant agent and perform entry-level roles while they obtain the qualifications and experience necessary to become a fully licensed agent (class 2 or class 1 licence).

A person who is the licensee in charge of a business will need to obtain a class 1 licence.

Current holders of a licence or certificate of registration will automatically hold an equivalent level of licence on 23 March 2020.

For example:

  • a person who holds a certificate of registration as a stock and station salesperson will hold a certificate of registration as an assistant stock and station agent
  • a person who holds a strata managing agent’s licence will hold a class 2 strata managing agent’s licence.

Licence duration

Applicants can choose a licence duration of 1, 3 or 5 years, providing more choice on what works best for their business and budget.

The standard 3 month restoration period will apply for expired licences.

All certificates of registration will be issued for a fixed term of 4 years, with no extensions of time or renewals allowed beyond that time. This establishes a clear training pathway for assistant agents to advance to a class 2 or class 1 licence as they build on work experience and improve their knowledge of the industry.

By the end of the 4 years, the certificate of registration holder can either obtain a class 2 licence or cease working as an assistant agent. A person may apply for a new certificate of registration 1 year after the expiry of their previous certificate of registration.

Restricted functions for different licenses

An agent will have different functions they can carry out, depending on their level of licence, or if they hold a certificate of registration.

Certificate of registration holders will have restrictions on the kinds of activities they may perform as an assistant agent, such as being unable to bind parties into an agency agreement or a franchising agreement.

Class 2 and class 1 licence holders may exercise all functions in their area of practice. However, only the nominated licensee in charge of a business can authorise the withdrawal of money from a trust account.

Licence or certificate of registration holders will be authorised to continue carrying out their current functions in their area of practice after 23 March 2020. However, they will also need to comply with the new legislative requirements according to their level of licence.

Appointing a single licensee in charge for the entire business

A business must nominate only one licensee in charge to supervise that business.

This is different to current arrangements in the industry where some companies appoint multiple licensees in charge (generally one for each office).

This change ensures that responsibility is limited to agents who are appropriately qualified.

The nominated licensee in charge will be responsible for authorising all trust account withdrawals for the business and continue to supervise the overall business in accordance with the supervision guidelines .

Increased qualification and continuing professional development (CPD) requirements

Entry standards are increasing for licence and certificate of registration holders.

For example, a class 2 licence holder must hold their licence for at least 2 years, complete work experience requirements and a relevant diploma to be eligible for a class 1 licence.

However, current licence and certificate of registration holders will automatically transition to the equivalent level of licence without having to complete further education, either on 23 March 2020 or at their next renewal date.

Assistant agents and licensed agents must complete CPD training annually as a condition of holding their licence or certificate of registration.

The new CPD requirements divide CPD into compulsory and elective topics.

Licence holders will be required to undertake a minimum number of hours of CPD per year. Assistant agents will need to complete at least 3 competency units from a Certificate IV qualification each year, to ensure that they will be eligible to apply for the relevant class 2 licence.

See the CPD requirements for more information.

Disclosing specific prescribed material facts

It is currently an offence for an agent to induce a person to enter into a contract or arrangement by concealing a material fact.

The new regulations specify the kinds of facts that an agent knows or should reasonably know and must disclose to a prospective purchaser. These include that the property:

  • flooded from a natural weather event or was affected by bush fire in the last 5 years
  • has significant health or safety risks
  • is listed on the loose-fill asbestos insulation register
  • has been the scene of a crime of murder or manslaughter in the last 5 years
  • has been used for the production or supply of a prohibited drug or plant in the last 2 years
  • is, or is a part of, a building that contains external combustible cladding to which:
    • a fire safety order, or a notice of intention to issue a fire safety order, has been issued requiring the building to be rectified regarding the cladding
    • a building product rectification order, or a notice of intention to issue a building product rectification order, has been issued requiring the building to be rectified regarding the cladding
    • a development application or complying development certificate application has been lodged for rectification regarding the cladding.

The agent will be liable if they fail to disclose these facts, whether or not they intended to conceal them from the prospective purchaser, if they knew of the fact, or should have reasonably known about the fact.

Extended rules of conduct

The regulations introduce new rules of conduct which apply to both agents and assistant agents.

Payment of rental income monthly to landlord

An agent must pay rental money received on behalf of the landlord under a residential tenancy agreement to the landlord at the end of each month, unless the landlord has instructed otherwise.

This ensures that rent is passed on in a timely manner and landlords are aware if there has been a failure to account in their rental income.

Maximum dollar value of gifts and benefits

An agent must not request or accept any gift or benefit from another person that is valued at $60 or more, if it could be considered to give rise to a conflict of interest.

The amount reflects the value of a gift that would be unlikely to induce an agent to alter their conduct by receiving or being promised the gift or benefit.

Separate trust accounts for rental and sales money

The licensee in charge of the business will need to establish separate trust accounts for rental money and sales money.

Many businesses already maintain separate trust accounts for rental income and sales deposits.

This requirement improves the accountability and transparency of agents by ensuring they do not mix rental and sales money in a single trust account.

How will the changes affect me?

Information for current license and certificate holder

If you are currently in the industry, how the changes affect you depends on the type and level of licence you currently hold. For companies and business operators, you may also need to change the way you organise your business.

Detailed information about how the changes affect you is available on these pages:

Corporation’s Licence
Real Estate (including Buyer’s Agent)Certificate of registrationAgent and nominated Licensee in Charge
Business BrokingCertificate of registrationAgent and nominated Licensee in Charge
On-site Residential Property ManagementCertificate of registrationAgent and nominated Licensee in Charge
Stock and StationCertificate of registrationAgent and nominated Licensee in Charge
Strata ManagementCertificate of registrationAgent and nominated Licensee in Charge

Previous license and certificate holder

If your licence or certificate has now lapsed and you would like to return to the industry, you will also be impacted by the changes.

Legislation

The Property, Stock and Business Agents Act 2002 (the Act) is the primary legislation that governs the conduct of agents working in this industry. The Act has been amended by:

From 23 March 2020, the Act will be called the Property and Stock Agents Act 2002.

The changes to the Act are supported by a set of regulatory instruments, including: