Yesterday saw the publication of the long-awaited Housing White Paper, which included pledges on fixing the ‘broken’ housing market.
These included introducing longer tenancies and building more affordable housing for first-time buyers.
However, the Paper still remained vague on the subject of the banning of letting agents’ fees in England.
Banning of Fees
The measure to ban letting agent fees was introduced during last year’s Autumn Statement, but as yet there is little in the way of a specific timeframe for the changes to be implemented.
In the White Paper, the Government says the following on the ban:
‘Where there are concerns, these tend to focus on affordability and security. In the long term, building more homes will help with affordability, but renters often face upfront costs including fees charged by letting agents to tenants.’
‘Tenants have no control over these fees because the agent is appointed by and works for the landlord. This is wrong.’
‘The government has already introduced transparency on fees. We will consult early this year, ahead of bringing forward legislation as soon as Parliamentary time allows, to ban letting agent fees to tenants. This will improve competition in the market and give renters greater clarity and control over what they pay.’
Confusion over timescale of letting agent fees ban
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has suggested that the timeframe for the ban on fees will follow one of two routes.
First, full consultation and primary legislation, which could take until 2018 to complete.
Alternatively, there could be, ‘curtailed consultation and secondary legislation under existing statute,’ which could be completed this year.
Uncertainty surrounding the timetable, coupled with the on-going Brexit debacle, suggests that a ban on agent fees is unlikely until next year.