The consultation on the ban on letting agent fees has been thrown into disarray by the snap General Election.
The series of workshops which the Department for Communities and Local Government planned to hold with agents has been cancelled – but the consultation itself is continuing, even though it ends on June 2, just days before the election itself.
ARLA Propertymark had issued its members with a ‘battle kit’, encouraging individual agents to meet their MPs during surgeries and lobby their cause.
However, Parliament is being dissolved on May 3, so there will be no MPs – much less, constituency surgeries – from then on.
The same message – to talk to local MPs – has been reinforced by industry figure Jane Gardner in a Facebook video – https://www.facebook.com/jpgardnerassociates/videos/814189902065150/?comment_id=815064165311057
However, that too does not mention the election.
ARLA Propertymark is now having to re-do parts of its ‘battle kit’.
The announcement, issued yesterday, that DCLG has called off its workshops confusingly says that it might hold workshops AFTER the consultation has closed.
DCLG said yesterday: “It was announced this week that a General Election will be held on 8 June. As we are now in a pre-election period, we sincerely regret to announce that we are unable to continue with the workshops scheduled between 28 April and 11 May to support the consultation on banning letting agent fees paid by tenants.
“The consultation will remain open until 2 June . . .
“Subject to the new Government and the consultation responses, additional workshops discussing the letting agent fee ban may be held later in the year.”
The workshops that have been cancelled had been due to run in London, Manchester, Bristol and Birmingham.
They would have at least given agents a platform to voice their concerns.
However, questions must now be asked whether electioneering candidates (not just current MPs) will be interested in hearing agents’ views on the fees ban; whether they will simply regard it as a vote winner; and why on earth DCLG has, out of fairness, either not simply cancelled the consultation for now, or extended the closing date.