Following a raft of changes, including tax measures, in the buy-to-let sector, the government has now published its consultation on banning letting agent fees, with a view to stopping hidden charges and bringing to an end tenants being hit by ‘costly upfront payments that can be difficult to afford’.
But while some people welcome the proposed measure as an opportunity to stop a small group of letting agents from charging unjustifiably high tenant fees, others simply want greater clarity about the market’s regulatory future.
Responding to the announcement of the consultation on the banning of letting agent fees, Chris Norris, head of policy at the National Landlords Association (NLA), said: “Yet again the government has published plans to tackle a particular element of the letting agency market, whilst at the same time suggesting other areas that they ‘might’ like to look at in the future.
“It is about time that landlords and agents were given some certainty about the market’s regulatory future – which could be easily achieved by agreeing an over-arching system of regulation for letting agents once and for all.”
Norris expressed particular concern that the scope of the government’s latest consultation appears to have drifted to include tenancy deposits, with suggestions that a ‘cap’ may now be necessary.
“This looks like yet another attempt to affix a sticking plaster to a perceived problem without really understanding what is driving behaviour in the real world,” he added.
Richard Price, executive director of UKALA, feels that this consultation could be another step towards complete regulation of letting agents.
“Small agents in this market are drowning in constant policy interventions,” he said. “The publication of this consultation in isolation, at a time when we’re awaiting further proposals on requirements for all agents to hold client money protection insurance, is proof that this government does not have a clear vision for the future of the sector.”
Price added: “If they really want to completely regulate letting agents then why waste time by constantly moving the goal posts?”
Rent4sure director Luke Burton, is among those that believe that the views of agents need to be taken seriously to ensure that the private rented market works best for all parties concerned.
He commented: “Rent4sure is committed to representing the interests of its many customers, so that their voices are heard and taken on board during the consultancy process.
“We will now work with the government and the lettings sector to find the right solution, so that our agents are able to maintain the high standards of service that their tenants and landlords currently receive.
“Rent4sure is working tirelessly to support customers during this period of change.”