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My Journey and Insights into Property Qualifications13 Mar 2024

My Journey with Industry Qualifications: A Testament to Their Importance

In 2003, my journey with industry qualifications began when I became the first agent in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, to join the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA). The responsibility I felt when in charge of over 70 brand-new apartments during the buy-to-let boom was what motivated me to make this choice. I was determined to provide accurate and trustworthy information to the investor landlords who had placed their trust in me.

Navigating a Sea of Legislation

The lettings industry was, and still is, fraught with changing legislation. Transitioning from ‘Assured’ to ‘Assured Shorthold’ tenancies post the 1996 Housing Act Amendment was a complex process. The sector’s evolving regulatory landscape highlighted the necessity for continuous learning and adaptation.

By 2004, after attending numerous ARLA Regional Meetings and realising the significant implications of non-compliance, I undertook and passed my ARLA Level 1 and Level 2 exams under rigorous old-fashioned exam conditions in a London town hall.

Jane Gardner ARLA Competency Exam Certificates 2004Jane Gardner and Ian Potter Level 4 Certificate in Residential lettings and property management 2014


Evolving with the Industry

A decade later, with ARLA now under the National Federation of Property Professionals (NFoPP) and the introduction of an Ofqual-regulated exam system, I faced the challenge of the Level 4 qualification. Despite managing a large agency and being a single mother, I embraced this opportunity, recognising its value for my professional development and the well-being of my team and clients.  That said, in order to actually attain a Level 4 certificate (equivalent to the first year of a bachelor’s degree and considered advanced learning) was a big commitment of my time:  the prospect of studying 8 books full of legislation (they say around 300 hours) and sitting 6 x 2 hour essay exams was not to be scoffed at!

Why Qualifications Matter

Qualifications foster confidence, competence, and credibility. They set a standard of excellence that benefits not only the individual but also their clients and the industry at large. Having marked Level 4 papers for the past 5 or so years, I know the pleasure I feel when I get a candidate who really knows their stuff. I can only imagine how they feel when their hard work pays off and the certificate is presented to them, and also how lucky their landlord clients are to have such competence in taking care of their property business. It also makes me a little sad for those landlords who don’t use a qualified agent, and really do not understand the risks they are taking; especially with all of the clampdowns happening on rogue landlords nowadays. I would urge any agency that has invested in team qualifications to market these achievements to their audience, explain the importance, and educate clients on the difference between regulated and non-regulated agencies.

ARLA qualified Team Ad for Sewell & Gardner

In 2013 my agency Sewell & Gardner almost swept the board at the Sunday Times Awards, with so many individuals taking gold in their category, and we brought home the Overall Letting Agency of the Year trophy, an absolute highlight of my career, underscored the value of our collective pursuit of excellence through qualifications.

Sewell & Gardner win Lettings Agency of the Year AwardsIntroducing the Level 4 Certificate in Business Management

With the transition to the new Level 4 Certificate in Business Management, Propertymark continues to adapt and innovate. This qualification, accessible through the ‘Surpass’ software system, reflects modern examination practices with interactive question styles and strict integrity measures. It offers invaluable knowledge and skills for estate and letting agency business owners, senior management, and career-focused professionals.

As an exam writer for the Level 4 Business Management Certificate, I have witnessed first-hand the positive impact of these qualifications. They are a testament to one’s dedication and expertise, holding value both within and beyond the property industry.

Embrace the Opportunity

I encourage you to explore the prospectus for the Level 4 Certificate in Business Management. Embrace this opportunity to elevate your professional standing and contribute to the higher standard of practice that our industry and your clients deserve.  Here’s a summary of the learning outcomes for this qualification, and you can read more about it here:

Level 4: Certificate in property agency management

Unit 1: Compliance and Ethical Practices in Property Agency Management

  • Understanding the meaning of ethics and its relationship to good practice.
  • Recognising the necessity for financial integrity.
  • Acknowledging the need for confidentiality.
  • Valuing respect for individuals and the environment.
  • Applying relevant consumer and business protection provisions.
  • Understanding the significance of industry standards and codes of practice.

Unit 2: Business Management within Property Agency

  • Grasping the benefits of effective organisation and planning.
  • Defining and understanding the functions of leadership and management.
  • Applying principles of strategic human resource management within a property agency.
  • Recognising the need for and implementing risk management in a property agency.

Unit 3: Business Systems in Property Agency

  • Comprehending the statutory framework for financial accounting.
  • Understanding financial management principles, including budgeting and forecasting.
  • Grasping the principles of Information Technology policies and practices.
  • Acknowledging the importance of recording and retaining business information accurately and securely.

Unit 4: Business Marketing in Property Agency

  • Applying marketing tools and strategies effectively.
  • Using a range of methods to market a property agency business effectively.
  • Recognising the importance of establishing and maintaining a property agency brand.

I work all over the UK with various business owners, dedicating my creative and expert property knowledge from 35 years in the industry. I am a Level 4 ARLA Propertymark examiner, I sit on the board of Agents Giving Charity and I love everything property related! I can be contacted on 01923 627777 or by email to

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