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Ban on fees - Consultation to start in March/April

Thursday 19 January 2017

The Government has announced that the consultation on banning letting agent’s fees to tenants will take place in March/April 2017. The announcement came during a debate in the House of Lords this week where Baroness Grender, who introduced the Renters' Rights Bill, tabled a question asking about the “steps to implement a ban on lettings fees announced in the 2016 Autumn Statement.”

The Minister, Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, responded by saying, “The Government is committed to introducing legislation as soon as possible to implement the ban on letting agent’s fees for tenants and we will consult in March/April on the details of the ban and will consider views of property agents, landlords, tenants and other stakeholders before introducing legislation.”

He added, “Impact assessments will follow the consultation and support the detail of banning fees to tenants.”

Baroness Grender followed up by asking, “Does he recognise that all fees – upfront, renewal and exit that are charged to tenants need to be included in the ban for this to work?”

The Minister replied saying, “It’s important that we have a detailed consultation. Government officials were in Scotland yesterday to learn lessons from there, but I do have sympathy with a wide ranging ban on fees, although we do have to be careful in terms of the consultation in ensuring that we get it right.”

He went on to say, “For example, if someone loses their key it’s quite legitimate that they should pay the letting agent for getting a new key – that sort of issue. But in terms of the general thrust of what she is saying I do agree.”

>> READ THE FULL DEBATE << 

ARLA has gathered evidence from members and is preparing its own impact assessment on the work letting agents do, how a ban will affect businesses and the services provided to both landlords and tenants. It is essential that government are educated as to the full range of practical implications that a ban would have.

We will let members know as soon as we hear more details about the consultation so that in addition to our collective response, as many agents as possible can tell the Government directly how a ban on fees will impact the private rented sector.

In the meantime we are continuing with every effort to work behind the scenes to inform and influence politicians and officials at the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Commenting after the debate, David Cox, Managing Director of ARLA said:

“After almost two months of silence we are glad that we have greater clarity on timescales. The Minister has acknowledged the importance of a detailed consultation into the proposed ban on letting agent fees and that an Impact Assessment will be carried out. We cannot stress enough, how important it is that an assessment looks at the ban in a wide context which includes tenants, landlords, agents and the wider housing market. It is essential the government are completely aware of the full range of practical implications the ban on fees would have both in the short and long term.”