Regulation and Enforcement

Enforcement needed before agent fee ban

Sally Walmsley
Written by Sally Walmsley

The Government needs to do more to better enforce existing rules over letting agent fees before looking to ban them outright.

That’s the call being made by the RLA as MPs today debate plans to ban fees.

Since May 2015 the law has compelled letting agents to publish details of the fees they charge. Agents breaking this law can be fined up to £5,000.

However figures published earlier this year by the National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS)  found that after two years later 93 per cent of councils had failed to issue a single financial penalty to a letting agent for breaching the law.

Only three penalty notices had been served across England for failure to display all relevant landlord and tenant fees.

In all 59 per cent of councils admitted that they do not consider the displaying of fees to be a high property for the allocation of resources within Trading Standards and 45 per cent said they only undertake reactive enforcement activity.

Instead of banning letting agent fees paid to tenants, the RLA is calling for immediate action to better enforce the law as it currently stands.

This includes the Government using its powers to force agents to display the fees they charge in more prominent positions and specify them in much greater detail.

The RLA is calling also for letting agents found guilty of breaking the transparency laws to face hefty fines of up to £30,000.

The RLA Policy Director, David Smith, said: “Laws without proper enforcement serve only to let tenants and good landlords down.

“Rather than pressing ahead with plans for more legislation in the sector to ban letting agent fees at an unknown time in the future, Ministers could achieve greater and earlier impact by using the powers they already have to improve transparency and introduce far tougher penalties for agents found to be breaching the law.

“This would send a clear message that enforcing bodies will not tolerate any letting agents flouting the law.”

About the author

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley is the Communications Manager for the RLA and award-winning Editor of RPI magazine. With 16 years’ experience writing for regional and national newspapers and magazines she is responsible for producing articles for our Campaigns and News Centre, the weekly E-News newsletter and editorial content for our media partners.

She issues press releases promoting the work of the RLA and its policies and campaigns to the regional and national media and works alongside the marketing team on the association’s social media channels to build support for the RLA and its work.

2 Comments

  • Any enforcement would be good!

    I reported a letting agent just recently for not showing fees and the attitude was ‘What do you expect us to do about it?’

    Politicians are great at coming up with an ever increasing burden of legislation but only think about how to apply it when something like Grenfell highlights their inaction.

    We should stop the politicians by disbanding parliament and divert the money to enforcing existing legislation.

  • Ha, “p***ing in the wind” is a phrase that comes to mind.
    The current government is simply following the lead of previous ones (especially Tony B Liar’s) of throwing in regulations, completely ignoring enforcement so the only people that comply are the ones who aren’t part of the problem, and then using the lack of compliance to support more regulation.
    Or put another way – “bad” people are ignoring the rules, so lets introduce more rules that the “bad” people will ignore.
    And they wonder why the “good” people aren’t happy.

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