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Licensing is a 'post code lottery', says Fair Fees Forum

At the latest meeting of the Fair Fees Forum, members described the current approach towards landlord licensing as a 'post code lottery'.

The group, which was formed by the National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS) and consists of high profile firms such as Countrywide, Connells and Winkworth, agreed that local authorities need to take a more consistent approach towards licensing private landlords.

Taking place last Wednesday, the meeting was held with a specific focus on regulation in the Private Rented Sector.

Alongside members of the group - including agents, trade bodys and redress schemes, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and the Greater London Authority were present in 'listening mode'.

The problem of rogue or criminal agents was also discussed. It was agreed that rogues who cause detriment to the consumer were a small minority, but their activities tarnished the entire industry.

The group concluded that there must be more focus on how to bring them into the fold – or permanently exclude them – to create a better experience of the PRS for consumers.

It was also agreed that there is a need for accreditation of referencing companies, while the idea of a more standard approach to inventories was discussed.

However, concerns were raised how these might be funded following the introduction of the impending ban on up-front letting agent fees charged to tenants.

The group also welcomed the appointment of the new housing minister, Alok Sharma.

It was agreed that the Fair Fees Forum will write to the new minister regarding regulation, and suggest the creation of a standing working group to DCLG.

The next meeting of the Fair Fees Forum takes place in July.

The Fair Fees Forum was created by NALS in the aftermath of the announcement of the proposed ban on letting agent fees. 

NALS says the idea of the group is to bring industry, trading standards and consumer groups together to discuss the creation of a fair fees charter, and look at alternatives to an outright ban.

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