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Suspend or extend: Agents back request over letting fees consultation

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A number of influential agents have backed an official request by ARLA Propertymark asking the Government to suspend or extend the consultation on the fees ban.

The agents include Hunters, whose founder and chairman is Kevin Hollinrake, now a Tory MP and regularly touted as a future housing minister.

ARLA Propertymark chief executive David Cox yesterday wrote to the Secretary of State at the Department of Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid.

Currently, the consultation is due to end on June 2 – just days before the General Election on June 8.

Citing the election ‘purdah’, DCLG has already cancelled a series of ‘workshops’ where agents could have had a platform for their views. DCLG has said it may hold workshops after the consultation has closed.

Cox’s letter to Javid says:

“As the UK’s largest professional body for the lettings industry with over 9,000 members, ARLA Propertymark requests that you extend the time limit for the consultation to ban letting agent fees in light of the recently announced General Election.

“We were pleased that a key part of this consultation process, as set out by DCLG, was to engage the sector and host a number of workshops throughout the country to discuss the implementation of the fee ban and proposals in the consultation.

“This was most welcome as it would have allowed agents to gain clarity from officials on some of the points raised in the document and share their views on the proposals.

“However, as it is likely the fee ban will become a manifesto pledge in the coming weeks and therefore a political issue, this work cannot properly take place during purdah; when civil servants will need to take extra care to remain impartial and objective.

“General Election guidance also makes clear that statements which refer to future intentions of the Government should not be handled by a Department.

“Therefore, ARLA Propertymark asks that the Government either extends the consultation for a further period beyond the election, or suspend it until a new government is in place.

“Either way, we request that the consultation does not close until the now-cancelled workshops have taken place; as the Department originally committed to do as part of the consultation process.”

The letter is endorsed by Hunters, plus Belvoir, Chestertons, Connells Group, Countrywide, Dexters, Felicity J Lord, Foxtons, haart, Hamptons, JLL, Knight Frank, Leaders, Martin & Co, Romans, Savills, Sequence and Your Move. It also has the backing of two of the tenancy deposit schemes, TDS and mydeposits.

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