Alternative to letting fees ban proposed
The Government has been urged to force letting agents to prominently display the fees they charge to make it easier for tenants to compare fees - rather than ban agents' fees altogether.
One-in-five landlords is less likely to use a letting agent as a result of the proposed ban on letting agent fees, a new survey by the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) has found.
And 57 per cent of letting agents questioned in the survey plan to cope with the proposed ban by increasing the fees they charge landlords.
The RLA's policy director, David Smith, said: “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.
“Many landlords get the education they need to manage their properties effectively themselves. However, not all landlords have the desire or time to do so.
“For all the flak they receive, the vast majority of agents play a helpful role in supporting landlords to ensure properties are safe, legal and secure.”
The RLA has warned that extra costs will be passed on to tenants in higher rents over the long term.
The Office for Budget Responsibility 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.”
A draft bill, introduced to Parliament in November 2017, sets out plans to get rid of upfront payments charged by agents.
The Government said the level of fees that estate agents are currently charging is “not clearly or consistently explained”, leaving tenants confused and unaware of the true cost of renting a property.
According to charity Citizens Advice, one-in-five households spend between £250 and £499 on letting agent fees and nearly one in ten are spending £1,000 or more.
It also estimated that renters in private accommodation are spending over £13m on letting agent fees in total each month.