Nominations for Labour’s deputy leadership race close at midday today with Stella Creasy, an MP who has campaigned fiecely against letting agents’ fees on tenants, one of the most highly-tipped candidates.
The six nominees, all MPs, require at least 15 per cent of the parliamentary Labour party’s backing - equivalent to 35 MPs including themselves - in order to progress beyond today’s stage.
Earlier this year the Walthamstow MP handed out awards to the best - and worst - lettings and sales agents in her constituency, and last year she used her role in the old Labour opposition front bench to criticise the use of “introductory fees” being levied by estate agents in some sales hot spots.
“How can you be acting in the interest of the seller if you are also making money from the buyer? This practice to me looks unfair. The behaviour of estate agents doing this needs to be challenged” she said at the time.
Creasy also opposed the coalition’s decision to shift responsibility for agency overview from the defunct Office of Fair Trading to the NTSEAT at Powys.
She has also been involved in a number of Twitter-spats with Eric Walker, the managing director of Northwood UK and founder member of SAFEagent.
One heated exchange – which involved literally scores of tweets written over more than two hours – began when Walker expressed doubt that a claim made by Creasy in a local TV programme was factually correct.
Creasy referred to a £4,000 fee levied by a lettings agent. Walker corrected that to say the figure included a deposit.
There then followed a heated exchange of comments, with Creasy becoming increasingly agitated. Some of her comments to Walker on Twitter included “Don’t you dare accused me of scaring people about the problems we see here!” and advised him to “...perhaps, just perhaps, do some homework...” and “you really don’t get what’s going on here, do you?”
Walker himself was saying that it was impossible to condone bad agents but that not all agents were bad, and that many agents were keen to get politicians of all or any parties to regulate the industry more – precisely to rid it of the bad agents.
On one occasion Walker tweeted: “One dodgy MP doesn’t make a whole party corrupt any more than one agent makes a whole industry the same. Some of us care.”