Property Personnel, which claims to be one of the U.K.’s longest established estate agent recruitment consultancies — is warning about the extensive impact that the ban on lettings fees in the UK is likely to have, once it comes into effect next year.
The it works is that when a landlord rents a property through a letting agent they are charged a number of fees for their services, however these fees are usually passed onto the tenant.
In June of 2017, during the Queen’s Speech, a move was announced to establish a new Tenants’ Fees Bill, which will stop tenants in England having to pay money to estate agents. Letting agents’ fees are already banned in Scotland.
Property Personnel Director Allison Dalrymple is concerned about the ban. She commented: “Some people in the industry are already talking about these new rules resulting in a loss of 4,000 jobs. But what we also have to remember is the wide-ranging impact they will have on those still working in the profession, as well as those applying to do so.
“The same number of transactions will be around after the bill becomes law – so references will still have to be taken, credit checks carried out, and immigration status investigated. It’s highly likely that this work will be handed to the negotiators in-branch, who will suddenly find themselves doing an admin job, rather than the sales job they were hired for. The knock-on effect may be that the role becomes a lot less satisfying, agents decide to leave, and it becomes harder to recruit new talent into the industry as a result.”
Dalrymple said that whilst some prime central London estate agencies and the smaller independents may escape relatively unscathed, the big corporate agencies could be hit hardest.
She explained: “The truth is that in the heart of the capital, lettings fees often comprise a smaller proportion of the agency’s total income for each property – so life without them will be less noticeable. Similarly, in the regions, branch staff in the smaller independents may already carry out these duties anyway.
“But it’s in the big corporates with centralised pre-tenancy administration departments where ‘backroom’ jobs may be at risk. We suspect this is where most of the savings will be made, with duties handed over to the negotiators, whose workload could increase dramatically.
“We’re concerned that this is a return to an ‘old-school’ approach, where there’s less concern about ‘work/life’ balance, negotiators take on more responsibilities, and work for longer hours. The danger is that potential recruits may take a look at what’s on offer and decide that they would prefer to do a Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 job in another profession instead.”