Jobs will be lost when the letting fees ban comes in, and morale among remaining staff will drop like a stone. Potential newcomers to the industry will look for jobs elsewhere.
The warning comes from estate agent recruitment consultancy Property Personnel which claims the ban will have an extensive impact once it comes into effect – probably next year, although the Government has yet to confirm the timescale of the Tenants’ Fees Bill.
Property Personnel director Allison Dalrymple said: “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 agencies plus smaller independents may escape relatively unscathed, the big corporate agencies could be hit hardest.
She said: “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 workloads 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 will 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.”