The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) has called for the proposed ban on letting agent fees to be spread across the opening six months of a tenancy, as opposed to being banned totally.
ARLA feels that the ban on fees in England and Wales will have a more profound impact than that predicted by policy makers.
Latest data released by ARLA shows that 42% of letting agents believe a full ban would lead to reduced staff numbers in the mid-long term. 62% of ARLA agents feel a full ban could cause the quality of rental properties to fall.
The research from ARLA looked at a number of different features, such as:
- impact of the ban on tenants, landlords, agents
- impact on the wider housing market
- the purpose of letting agent fees and what they cover
Letting agents expect the condition of rental accommodation to decline, while 61% think that property management standards will fall. According to ARLA, spreading the costs of fees would see letting agents able to maintain current service levels. The Association believes that this method would make tenancies more affordable as it means tenants would only need to find cash for a deposit and first month’s rent.
What’s more, ALRA’s proposals would see tenants only paying for fees for the first six months of a tenancy. This means there would be no additional costs for renewing a contract.
By keeping fees, ARLA suggest that landlords will benefit substantially and will not have greater costs during a time of tough regulatory changes.
According to the research, letting agents fully expect rental rises should a full ban materialise. Agents, who need costs associated with these fees to recoup for important tasks, will ultimately pass these costs onto landlords.
ARLA believe that if fees are spread, jobs will be saved in the lettings sector and as such, will not give a negative impact on the wider economy.
David Cox, managing director of ARLA, said: ‘When the Chancellor announced a full ban on letting agent fees in the Autumn Statement, we called the measure draconian and a crowd pleaser. We stand by that. Nonetheless, we believe that ARLA’s proposal to spread the cost of the fees across the first six months of the tenancy will guard against the numerous unintended consequences of a full ban while also finding a solution that works best for the consumer.’
‘Over the coming weeks and months, ARLA will be campaigning for a balanced legislative solution. Our research supports our previous calls that a full ban on letting agent fees will have a profoundly negative impact on the rental market, and do little to help cash-poor renters save enough to get on the housing ladder,’ Cox added.