In November of last year the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Phillip Hammond, confirmed plans to ban letting agent fees to tenants in England. The news was announced in the Autumn Statement with promises made to consult with the government Department for Communities and Local Government ahead of any changes to legislation.
The dates for these consultations have now been set for March/April this year following a debate in the House of Lords. The debate highlighted a lot of important considerations such as which fees can reasonably be expected to be included in the ban. An example cited as a fee that would not be covered in the ban is any costs that might occur if a tenant loses their key and needs this replaced by a landlord or letting agent, in this instance a cost for a replacement would be covered by the tenant.
The consultation will take in to consideration the views of letting agents, land lords, tenants and other stakeholders and will also conduct impact assessments.
Government officials will also be looking to learn lessons from across the border in Scotland where letting fees have been banned since 2012. The ban on fees in Scotland has in large been successful but some have noted that banning these fees has led to landlords recouping the costs by increasing the rent on their properties instead.
The news has been met with a mixed response from those in the industry, with many believing rogue landlords will still find ways to avoid this ban despite the governments best efforts to have them work within the current housing legislation guidelines. How this ban will affect landlords and letting agents who do operate honestly within this legislation remains to be seen.