Lawmakers in Singapore passed a Bill to create a new statutory board that will regulate the real estate agency business in the country.

The Council of Estate Agents or CEA will oversee the Singapore real estate industry once it officially begins operations on October 22, published media reports said. It will take over the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore's (IRAS) current role in licensing estate agents from Nov 1 and implement a new framework.

National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan said a new regulatory framework for the industry was necessary given the rising number of complaints against housing agents, which soared by 60 per cent from 2005 to 2009.

From January 1, property agents will have to be registered with the CEA and meet certain standards to continue working. They must have passed a 4 GCE 'O' level or its equivalent, and pass a mandatory CEA examination among other things, the report published in the Strait Times said.

To ease into the new framework, existing agents who have not sat for an industry examination can do so before December 2011. Tan said the new regulatory landscape forbids property agencies and agents from acting as moneylenders. A new code of ethics and conduct also bans agents from making referrals to moneylenders.