Campaigns Regulation and Enforcement

Last four housing ministers said fee ban would raise rents

Sally Walmsley
Written by Sally Walmsley

Plans to ban letting agent fees paid by tenants have previously been attacked by the last four housing ministers.

The revelations come as the government launches its consultation on the proposal originally announced in the Autumn Statement.

In 2013, the then Housing Minister, Mark Prisk said that it “cannot be the answer to tackle the minority of irresponsible agents”, whilst his predecessor, Kris Hopkins described the proposal as a “short term gimmick” which would mean “higher rents by the back door.”

In 2015, Brandon Lewis, now a Home Office Minister, said that it would “reduce the number of properties available to rent” whilst the current Housing Minister, Gavin Barwell, last year tweeted that it would be a “bad idea” which would increase rents.

The Residential Landlords Association is arguing that whilst high fees do cause problems for tenants, such issues should be looked at as part of a comprehensive strategy for the private rented sector.

RLA Policy Director, David Smith, said: “High fees are clearly a problem for tenants, but this piecemeal approach will do nothing to address the fundamental problem, namely not enough homes to rent.

“As almost all Housing Ministers since the Conservatives came to power have noted, today’s proposals risk making rents more expensive, making life harder for tenants.”

The RLA is warning that the plans will do nothing to improve enforcement of the law which currently means letting agents have to be clear, upfront, about the fees they charge. Just a handful of council have taken action against agents who have flouted the law.

Mr Smith added: “Regulation without proper enforcement is meaningless and only helps the rogue agents.

“Whatever the outcome of the consultation we need a system that ensures finite resources are focussed on finding and rooting out the crooks, not penalising those agents and landlords providing a good service.”

About the author

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley is the Magazine and Digital Editor for the NRLA. With 20 years’ experience writing for regional and national newspapers and magazines she is responsible for editing our members' magazine 'Property', producing our articles for our news site, the weekly and monthly bulletins and editorial content for our media partners.

1 Comment

  • It has been glaringly obvious from the start that removing a source of income for letting agents would simply result in the shifting of the source of that income as a cost to landlords, who, in turn have only one place to recoup the cost, their tenants. The government should consult much more closely with industry experts to achieve their goal of more affordable homes which is what the country needs, rather than broad-brush scapegoating of UK landlords as anything other than genuine business people with the same goals as any of their peers in other industries. Building more homes is the only way to make the provision they seek of affordable homes for all.

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