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Minister confirms fee ban on its way but rental sector 'improving'

Housing minister Gavin Barwell has confirmed that consultation on the government’s proposed ban on letting agency fees levied on tenants in England will launch “in the spring.”

In a written answer to Labour MP Julie Elliott, Barwell says his government “is committed to building a strong and safe private rented sector, which provides security and stability for both tenants and landlords.” 

He goes on to say that the government “announced at the 2016 Autumn Statement a ban on letting agent fees paid by tenants, to improve competition in the private rental market and give renters greater clarity and control over what they will pay. The government will consult in the Spring on the detail of implementation.”

Barwell goes on to say that the government’s long-awaited Housing White Paper - eventually announced at the end of last month - sets out an intention to promote fairness and transparency for a growing number of leaseholders. 

“We will consult on a range of measures to tackle all unfair and unreasonable abuses of leasehold and consider further reforms through the consultation to improve consumer choice and fairness for leaseholders” says Barwell.

He then adds: “An increasing number of private tenants are happy with their tenure and standards are improving. We are determined to ensure all sectors of the housing market provide decent homes.”

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    So the 'consultation' is just lip-service, then. Despite industry concerns, it's happening anyway.

  • Simon shinerock

    You have to think of the market as one of those balloons used to make sculptures at kids parties, squeezeing them changes their shape but not their volume. What this means is that whisky there is a private rented sector supply and demand will affect rents and fees and banning charging tenants will simply move the burden to the landlord. This won't affect the overall level of cost to the tenant and if anything it will increase it as a distorted market always presents opportunities for gamesmanship

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    As a landlord myself, I agree with a ban on letting agent fees to tenants.

    The landlord can just choose a different agent if the fees are too high, the tenant will have to choose the one that has a suitable property.
    They should still be allowed to charge for referencing, although this could be deducted from the first months rent.
    This would stop the landlord having to pay for lots of referencing only to have the tenant go elsewhere anyway.

    With regards to leashehold charges, any bill to stop unreasonable charges is long overdue.
    My local council slapped me a bill for over £25K to have the walls re-cladded.
    a) I didnt ask them to do it, in fact I said I didnt want it and they did it anyway.
    b) The price far exceeds the value of the works they did, I had the place surveyed and the surveyor put a figure of more like £8K.
    c) That figure came to 20% of the value of my property. I didnt put that much down as a mortgage deposit and they asked me to pay within 28 days.

    I refused to pay a penny until the price has been significantly reduced, and am now in a legal battle with them.
    This has made me seriously consider throwing my tenants on to the street with a section 21, and selling up which I didnt want to do, and franctly why should I sell just because of un reasonable service charges.

    My flat is in a block of 4, and the other 3 are still local authority owned.
    There should be a limit to what can be charged to a lease without unanimous approval of the work going ahead.
    They didnt even tell me how much I was going to have to pay until the bill dropped through the door.

    Once this legal battle is over I intend to push to have the head of my councils housing department removed from her post for this.

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    You've not thought that through, have you? How can you deduct referencing fees from the first month's rent if they don't pass and therefore don't move in? Also, fees are (in the main) for referencing, not just for fun.

     
  • Nichola Taylor Cockayne

    A cap should be set on fees, not a ban. As an agent, referencing, drafting contracts and all the lovely legal stuff that goes with it (heaven help you if you're here on a visa, we also have to prove you're allowed to be here and rent a property!) is time consuming and requires close attention to detail. Do i do that for free now? We charge the landlord half, and the tenant half. The landlord won't pay for it all, they'll 'go it alone'.

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