News: Letting Fees: Ban will not cut cost of renting, insists trade body

Thu, 28 Dec 17

Government proposals to ban letting agent fees levied on tenants next year are unlikely to make renting cheaper as new research reveals that the prospect of a ban is already being felt by the market.

Among letting agents that responded to a survey by the Residential Landlords Association, some 57 per cent planned to cope with the proposed tenant fee ban by increasing the fees landlords pay.

This raises the prospect of the extra costs being passed on to tenants in higher rents over the long term.

The association says this warning has been echoed by the Office for Budget Responsibility which has noted that “it is possible that a ban on fees would be passed through to higher private rents. If this was the case, it could affect our housing benefit spending forecast.”

RLA’s survey also finds that one in five landlords are less likely to use a letting agent as a result of the fee ban.

Rather than a fee ban, the RLA is calling on ministers to use the powers they already have to force agents to display more prominently the fees they charge, and specify them in greater detail. 

This would make it much easier for tenants to compare fees charged by one agent compared to another, the organisation claims.

“Tenants are being offered false hope that banning the fees they pay will make renting cheaper. Rather than making changes which the Office for Budget Responsibility has warned could push up rents, ministers could take immediate action to help tenants shop around for the best deals they can find” says RLA policy director David Smith.

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