The government says the formal consultation on the proposed introduction of a ban on letting agent fees levied on tenants in England will be held in the spring.
In a House of Lords debate it was announced that “The government is committed to introducing legislation as soon as possible to implement the ban on letting agent’s fees for tenants and we will consult in March and April on the details of the ban and will consider views of property [letting] agents, landlords, tenants and other stakeholders before introducing legislation.”
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors says there are two probable routes to implementation - full consultation and primary legislation, which would be unlikely to be completed within 2017 or what it describes as “curtailed consultation and secondary legislation under existing statute” such as Competition & Consumer Regulations, which might be more possible within 2017.
However the fact that the consultation may now not happen until the spring, along with the RICS’ belief that the government favours the primary legislation route, suggests that a ban is now unlikely to see the light of day in England until next year.
Baroness Grender, the Liberal Democrat peer who has in recent months been calling for a ban on fees levied on tenants in England, was told by a government spokesman in the Lords yesterday that: “It’s important that we have a detailed consultation. Government officials were in Scotland ... to learn lessons from there, but I do have sympathy with a wide ranging ban on fees, although we do have to be careful in terms of the consultation in ensuring that we get it right.”
David Cox, managing director at the Association of Residential Letting Agents says: “The [government] has acknowledged the importance of a detailed consultation into the proposed ban on letting agent fees and that an Impact Assessment will be carried out. We cannot stress the importance that an assessment must look at the ban in a wide context which includes tenants, landlords, agents and the wider housing market; it is essential the government [is] completely aware of the full range of practical implications the ban on fees would have both in the short and long term.”
Last week a representative of the Department of Communities and Local Government - which would preside over the probable ban - told the NALS-led Fair Fees Forum that it should concentrate on considering how a ban could be enforced.