The government announced yesterday that the implementation of the ban on letting agents’ fees levied on tenants will not take place before spring 2019 at the earliest, but landlords are still being warned to prepare for the letting fees ban.
Isobel Thomson, CEO, NALS, welcomed greater clarity on the timetable for implementation of the ban, insisting that “it’s much needed for our industry and something NALS has long called for”.
The government is currently carrying out pre-legislative scrutiny of the proposed bill ahead of presenting the bill to parliament. But while the bill aims to create a fairer and safer PRS for all, NALS is concerned that it may not deliver what the government aspires to and risks doing real damage to the PRS.
“NALS urge government to use this time to fully assess the impact of the bill,” Thomson added. “It is crucial that government look again at the proposals and consider tenant fees in a broader, coherent framework of regulation for the PRS.”
There are also concerns among industry professionals that letting agents, many of which are keen to maintain their revenues, will attempt to simply claw back lost earnings next year by lumping extra costs on to landlords. But given that landlords pay handsomely for letting – and management – fees, and the fact that landlords do not profit from tenant fees, as they tend to go to the agent, means that any attempts to pass costs on to landlords would undoubtedly be a high risk strategy.
James Davis, founder of online letting agent Upad, said: “Landlords simply can’t afford to not be prepared for what lies ahead. In my experience, there’s a certain amount of ‘head in the sand’ mentality around the impact that this ban could have, both amongst letting agents and landlords.
“Unfortunately, many headlines focus on how rents will increase once this legislation is implemented but the reality for landlords is that this needn’t be the case.
“Most private landlords don’t, in fact, charge excessive upfront costs and by simply taking the time now to consider how else they can manage their costs, they’ll be assured of being prepared for the fees ban, whether that happens, this year, next year or indeed at all.”