The UK’s growing number of tenants is urging the Government not to forget or delay its lettings fee ban plans.
Chancellor Philip Hammond pledged the lettings fee ban in his Autumn Statement last year, winning praise from tenants’ rights groups and disappointment from letting agents.
The fees have such a large place in the market that Mr. Hammond’s announcement resulted in a 13% drop in the share price of Foxtons, the high profile, upmarket London estate agent.
The charity Citizens Advice has found that one in five tenants has to pay lettings fees of £100 or more to start and renew a tenancy.
But for professionals renting expensive properties in London and other city centres, these fees can be much higher. And the chronic shortage of housing on the rental market means that most have no choice but to pay.
Disappointingly for tenants, the Government’s proposed consultation on the lettings fee ban has not begun, nor has a date been set.
The Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, Gillian Guy, comments: “The Government’s pledge to ban letting agent fees is welcome and should put a stop to private renters being ripped off. But it needs to be enforced sooner rather than later, or letting agents will continue to cash in while they still can.”
Dan Wilson-Craw, of tenant lobby group Generation Rent, adds: “It’s not right that letting agents charge someone who isn’t their customer. Just in terms of basic fairness, it makes complete sense to make landlords pay for it.”
Under current rules, letting agents must not charge tenants for the same things that landlords are charged for, or charge non-specific administration fees.
Letting agents are also legally obliged to display the fees they charge both in a prominent position in their offices and on their website.
Under the Government’s lettings fee ban proposals, all charges would have to be met by landlords or the agencies themselves.
However, the plans have been met with opposition, with many believing that rents will rise if lettings fees are banned.
Indeed, many landlords will feel the need to put their rent prices up if they are faced with higher fees from agents, which will undoubtedly cause affordability issues for tenants.
All landlords worried about rent arrears following the ban should ensure they have Rent Guarantee Insurance in place. This peace of mind cover makes sure you still get paid if your tenants cannot or will not pay rent: https://www.justlandlords.co.uk/rentguaranteeinsurance
What do you think of the proposed ban? And is it a good thing for tenants?