Letting agencies and landlords must club together to campaign for a cap on agents' fees charged to tenants, rather than an outright ban.
This is the message from the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks, which cites recent research by agency chain Spicerhaart predicting that tenants paying a monthly rent of £1,000 could end up paying an additional £900 over the course of an average tenancy if landlords try to recover their own extra fees through higher rent.
The AIIC call echoes that of the National Approved Letting Scheme which in recent weeks - and ahead of the ban on fees announced by Chancellor Phillip Hammond during last month’s Autumn Statement - has set up a Fair Fees Forum to promote an industry-wide ‘line’ on voluntary fee caps.
The AIIC says a cap would represent a fairer way of limiting agents' fees charged to tenants.
"We're obviously extremely disappointed with the outcome of the recent Autumn Statement, especially at a time when the rental sector has come under such frequent attack from the government [but] we must stand up, be counted and engage in constructive dialogue with the stakeholders that matter" says Patricia Barber, chair of the AIIC.
"The next few weeks and months are set to be extremely crucial in the make-up of this proposed ban" says Barber, referring to a formal consultation period to be triggered by the Department of Communities and Local Government, probably early in the new year.
"Rather than complaining about what we consider to be a gross injustice, it will be far more productive if the industry clubs together to explain possible solutions to this problem, the benefits of a cap and possible implications of a blanket ban. Here at the AIIC, we find it hard to understand why tenants should be serviced with hours of letting agents' time while benefitting from referencing and inventories - all for free" she adds.
This week has seen a similar call for voluntary industry-wide action by Paul Bonett, who runs a large letting and estate agency in Brighton.