Anyone permanently and regularly employed in the estate agency business or in the management of multi-tenant residential buildings on behalf of third parties should embrace the idea of mandatory life-long learning. Since June 2017, continued professional development has been legally mandated for practitioners of these real estate professions in Germany via a new law introducing rules for the licensing of commercial estate agents and residential property managers.
The law has now been in force since 1 August 2018, has been generally acknowledged within the industry, and is in the process of being implemented. Residential property managers have since been obligated to obtain a license for practising the profession of property management. Before the new law went into effect, career training in this profession used to follow a more informal approach. Real estate brokers and property managers were only obliged to register as such before practising their job.
Residential property managers who already worked as managers prior to 1 August 2018 were granted a transitional period ending on 1 March 2019 to obtain a license to practice this profession from trade offices, municipal public order offices of the German Länder or from chambers of industry and commerce. Practising these professions in line with applicable laws also requires proof of professional liability insurance within the meaning of Art 34 c, Sec. 2, No. 3, German Industrial Code (GewO). Such an insurance policy defines and covers the risks typical for the industry.
Introducing legislation to govern the entire industry is intended to standardise existing provisions and effective rules. Lawmakers thereby intend to increase the transparency and insights into this highly active and vibrant sector for consumers. But above all, consumers—both tenants and owners or home buyers—are supposed to be protected by the new regime.
Reading well-informed books on background facts or academic knowledge is all very well, reflecting the reader’s interest in the subject matter. But it is not the same as a recognised continued professional development program, and does not satisfy the requirement of ongoing education. Traders or companies that specialise in the brokerage or management of real estate are legally required to expand their vocational horizon in another, verifiable way. The requirement is to complete at least 20 hours of continued professional training over a three-year period. “This includes estate agents with a license pursuant to Art. 34 c, Sec. 1, Sent. 1, No. 1, GewO, and residential property managers with a license pursuant to Art. 34 c, Sec. 1, Sent. 1, No. 4, GewO. Companies holding a historic license but working in this business only intermittently also count among the entities subject to these mandatory training requirements. Any company licensed for both lines of business and actively engaged in them should substantiate 40 hours of continued professional development. The same is true for employees who collaborate in these licensable activities,” according to a statement by the Potsdam Chamber of Industry and Commerce.
The continued professional training of estate agents and property managers can take a variety of forms. One option is to go back to school, many years after graduating. This means taking classes requiring physical attendance. Alternatively, the ongoing education can take the form of in-house training classes conducted on the company’s premises, or of webinars that include certifiable remote study programs. What matters is that the learning outcome is checked and verified by a qualified institute, such as the EIA European Real Estate Academy. Yet another option is for employees or co-workers to organise in-house classes or workshops for the sake of ongoing professional development with focus on selected subjects. That being said, it is highly recommended to have such classes taught by outside experts.