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What sets RICS chartered surveyor estate agents  like Jeremy Leaf & Co apart from other agents?
Membership of RICS gives the best possible assurance to customers that member agents will always act professionally and be fully accountable for their actions.
RICS takes pride in its public interest role which forms the central core of the Institution’s Royal Charter and differentiates it from ordinary trade and membership organisations.
Money tends, unfortunately,  to bring out the worst in people which doesn’t help when the property market is poorly regulated and frequently driven by price.
RICS agents have to disclose fees, conflicts (or even potential conflicts) of interest, and all possible  breaches of data protection rules.  They  cannot even ask unnecessary questions about the financial status of their customers.
Conflicts of interest can arise when buying,  selling or renting property. And they can be very difficult to identify - especially as the licensing of agents isn’t compulsory and even membership of trade bodies is voluntary.
All offers received by RICS agents must be submitted promptly, and in writing. Customers using their firm for a dependant transaction or providing financial advice cannot be given preference. Nor should RICS members make it difficult for clients to withdraw from contracts.
The RICS monitors members and their  firms to ensure compliance with the highest standards.
It also itself provides such professional, technical and ethical standards through effective qualifications, regulation and training.
Compulsory deposit rules, proper redress and transparency of charges via a tough code of conduct give RICS members a competitive advantage when seeking to gain instructions.
The rapid expansion of private renting in particular has coincided with increased demand from landlords and tenants as well as a general rise in complaints. But RICS members have  to keep client accounts separate from their own finances and ensure clients are able legally to regain possession of their properties if they wish.
Landlords expect their agents to be familiar with the hundreds of rules and regulations governing the rental sector, to avoid falling foul of the law - irrespective of whether the agents are  actually managing the property. Here again, RICS agents can relieve understandable anxiety.
Tenants don’t necessarily know what to expect  from their landlords or agents but RICS members have a legal obligation to explain fully their rights and responsibilities.
Without proper enforcement, some potential clients, who perhaps have not previously experienced poor service, may be tempted to try to keep costs down and use agents with less rigorous standards. But they could, unfortunately, find themselves paying the penalty later.
Jeremy Leaf & Co have been members of RICS since starting in business in 1979 and are proud of their reputation for always doing their best to look after  the interests of buyers and sellers, landlords and tenants.