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Housing minister told by council to 'act now' on agents fees ban

The government has been urged by a London council to act now to end letting fees for private renters.

Hackney council says immediate action is required because of the failure of the government to provide a clear timescale to introduce its own measure.

The government first announced last year that letting fees, such as charges for signing new tenancy agreements, would be banned in England. The measure was then included in the Draft Tenants’ Fees Bill in June’s Queen’s speech, but without a clear legislative timetable for its implementation.

The letter to housing minister Alok Sharma from the Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville, requests full details on when the ban will come in and assurances that the proposal will not be watered down.

The letter is a follow up to the councils’ own request for agents in its patch to voluntarily ditch fees. 

Hackney council claims the 32,000 private tenants in the borough pay an average of £400 in letting fees per tenancy, with many paying upwards of £500. It claims that with a two-bedroom home in Hackney now costing on average £1,820 per month – over £300 more than it did in 2011 – fees “are contributing to private rents becoming increasingly unaffordable even for people on middle incomes.“

  • jeremy clarke

    Perhaps hackney council should concentrate on licencing the 200 or so HMO s under the mandatory scheme that, according to its own Web site are out there and not yet licenced rather than focussing on vote grabbing headlines. Surely more tenants are affected by possible poor quality unlicensed properties?

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    Government should trial a fees ban inside M25 first- and why not start with Hackney? Fee ban policy will be good for London but not so good outside the capital where many small agents are increasingly dependent on all streams of revenue from lettings including income from new tenancy fees .

  • Peter Hendry

    It's all very well making proposals to try and ban agents from charging fees to prospective tenants but surely the real issue is that of finding a way to calm the high and increasing levels of rents we are seeing in this country?

    At the Hendry Solution we have new and innovative proposals for improving the way agents deal with lettings, as well as dealing with house sales themselves.

    These proposals depend upon the ability of agents to be able to charge intending tenants for the services they offer. It would therefore seem sensible to examine highly valuable proposals like these before deciding to go ahead with a ban of this kind.

    The best way to improve the housing market in England and Wales would be to enhance knowledge (and the transparency of it) within the housing market rather than to arbitrarily block certain sectors of agency from charging perfectly justifiable fees for the necessary services they provide.

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    I can hear Phil Hammond now "In November last year during my budget speech I announced a ban on letting fees, well I just discovered the Hendry Solution so I'm cancelling the fee ban"!!

     
  • Peter Hendry

    Well, as we can already see, TM and her minority government is reluctant to commit to a timescale so perhaps they are beginning to realise the wider issues involved!

    It's obvious that any deposits made to secure a property pending making a commitment by exchange of contracts ought to be fully returnable, no matter what reason is given for withdrawal. That would be acceptable but the question is, why take a deposit in the first place? See the HS for the better way to go about resolving all this.

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    What a waste of time! The Government are fiddling whilst Rome burns.

    They need to tackle the chronic under provision of house building over the last twenty years instead of wasting time on a policy that will just drive up rents as it has in Scotland.

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    Is not the real housing problem the increase in so many people over such a short period of time?

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