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Liberal Democrats take 'credit' for letting agents' fees ban

The Liberal Democrats appear to be taking what they see as the credit for the government’s commitment to ban letting agents’ fees imposed on tenants in England.

A blog entry on the Liberal Democrat Voice website says one of the party’s peers in the House of Lords, Olly Grender, previously worked for Shelter where she developed a passion for housing issues. 

She continued this in the Lords with a Private Members’s Bill last year - reported at the time on Letting Agent Today - which would have outlawed these fees. 

“Five days after the debate, the government announced the measure” says the blog entry, clearly suggesting a cause and effect link. 

Now in response to the government’s launch of the formal consultation on the proposed ban, Grender writes on the blog: “Too many renters are being ripped off by unfair letting fees and left behind by our broken housing market. A total ban on all tenant fees must be brought in as soon as possible, including renewal and exit fees, to avoid agents getting around the ban by the back door.

“The only fair system is where landlords pay the fee, to stop agents double-charging.

"The government must not bow to pressure from letting agents who are lobbying hard to protect their profits. They have had time to improve voluntarily but they have failed to act. Unscrupulous letting agents must clean up or close down.

“It’s important that the letting agents don’t win the day.”

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    The Private rental sector has became a political football with all parties other than UKIP scrambling around to gain the tenants vote.

    This is pretty silly as tenants are a diverse group with very different circumstances for renting and unlikely to vote enmasse for any party.

    Most tenants are more likely to be concerned about rent increases than letting agent fees.

    Letting agent fees are actually counter inflationary and put downward pressure on rents.

    The removal of letting agent fees will lead to rent increases (as seen in Scotland) and are a good example of why politicians should not interfere in markets.

    Markets work best when there is little government intervention and common sense regulation.

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    I am afraid that common sense died a long time ago. It happened about the time that someone decided they knew best about what everyone else wanted required or deserved.

     
  • jeremy clarke

    One consolation, the lib/dem party is dead, next step sorting out those in the house of lords who pursue personal agendas rather than common sense!

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    It should be pointed out it was a Liberal Democrat Peer Lord Monroe Palmer who with Baroness Hayter has been instrumental in getting Client Money Protection to the verge of being compulsory.

    This change came about because sensible politicians in the Lords worked with the industry to achieve constructive change. A full investigation was undertaken and after gathering evidence from industry experts a report was published before a decision was made. If it was not for this hard work in the House of Lords the long fought for action would never have happened. Dare I say, the political process worked effectively. However I suppose it is different when the political football goes into the goal for the things you support as that is seen as a victory for common sense!

    The fee ban on the other hand came out of the blue (actually “blue” Number 10 itself) with no consultation or warning for the industry and now the industry has to catch up with a rushed consultation and in the wake of a promise from the PM herself that a tenant fee ban MEANS a tenant fee ban (funny I am sure I have heard something similar not long ago! O well Aunty May knows best.) The Lib Dem motion on the other hand was being debated and scrutinized by Parliament and therefore a softer proposal may have been possible as the due process progressed.

    I therefore find it ironic that now on the eve of a us going into a snap General Election, after which face an era of decisions made by edict and proclamation by our Government, that some people in our industry are calling for less scrutiny and revel in the demise of any effective opposition. It should be remembered that it was the “dead parrot” that kept the coalition Government straight and it is the House of Lords who now provide more effective opposition than the Official one in the “other place”.

    We all now have the chance to reflect on how we want to be governed by whom. The stakes have never been higher not just for our industry but the country itself. Let the battle commence.

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