The RICS has established a working group to look at the subject of transparency in professional fees.

The Transparency Working Group is chaired by RICS president Peter Goodacre, and includes RICS members as well as independent parties.

The premise of the group is to engage the views and seek evidence from as many people and organisations as possible. The RICS will be issuing a consultation paper and holding a number of stakeholder meetings to gather information, evidence and views.

The group plans to carry out their investigations over the next 12 months and is looking to report on its findings by the end of 2009. Some of the issues that will be examined include:

• Declaration of insurance fees and commissions

• Service charges in leasehold property

• Valuation fees

Goodacre said: ‘By far the majority of RICS members and other professionals working in the property sector are open and transparent in all their business dealings. However, there is anecdotal evidence that suggests either that this might not always be the case, or that there are certain areas where there needs to be more openness.

‘What the working group wants to do is engage with all those involved in these issues to find out what is really happening. It wants clear evidence from which to take forward the work on transparency.’

Roger Southam, chairman and chief executive at residential property management company Chainbow, said: ‘I am delighted that RICS has taken the initiative here as it is clear that these issues need to be looked into. However, the group is clear that RICS will need to engage other interested stakeholders in order to effectively address any concerns that the working group identifies.’

Keith Richards, head of business development & consumer affairs at ABTA The Travel Association, and a member of the RICS Regulatory Board said: ‘The group is adamant these issues need to be looked at in a sensible and sensitive way. It is important that our work helps both consumers and professionals and this will dictate how we take this project forward.’