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Fees Ban - Regional letting agents propose radical alternative levy

A group of letting agencies in Yorkshire have proposed to the government a radical alternative to the proposed fees ban - instead, they want a levy on every rental transaction with proceeds to go to homeless charities and social care agencies.

A 12 page document has been submitted to the Department of Communities and Local Government as part of its formal consultation - which closed on Friday - on the current government’s proposal to ban letting agents’ fees levied on tenants in England.

The document has emerged from a working group of Yorkshire letting agencies spearheaded by Will Linley of Linley & Simpson, Jonathan Morgan of Morgans, and David Waterhouse from the Angus Roberts agency.

Citing detailed figures on the costs of operating buy to let properties, the paper makes a strong case against the current fee ban proposal and debunks the belief that landlords can simply absorb any charges deflected in their direction and away from tenants.

In summary, the agents’ alternative is an unspecified mandatory levy – the agents call this “a revolutionary move” which might in total recoup £50m annually. It could be tied to the overall rent and would be accompanied by a cap on increases to charges that would still be levied on tenants.

Proceeds from the levy “would provide charities and health agencies with an injection of new funding that would innovatively tackle both acute and long-term problems of homelessness, pay for the long-awaited regulation of the lettings industry to drive up standards and clear it of rogue operators, and equip researchers with the resources to explore viable solutions to the looming wider housing crisis” says the agents in their paper.

“This response has drawn upon the insight and expertise of letting agents across Yorkshire. It is very much work in progress but we believe it makes a compelling case for considering a different, better, approach” conclude the agents.

The independent analysis which underpins the research is quoted in general terms in the document but has not been made public; the agents have invited the DCLG to meet with them to share the details of this.

All three major political parties in this week's General Election advocate a ban on letting agents' fees levied on tenants in England.

You can read the full levy proposal here.

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