Landlord News,Tenant Fees Ban

Government Survey Confirms the Need for Letting Agent Fee Ban

Em Morley - August 23, 2016

A survey by the Government has confirmed the need for a letting agent fee ban, according to tenant lobby group Generation Rent.

The organisation has called on the Government to ban letting agent fees for tenants, after the Government’s own survey estimates that the cost is discouraging half a million renters from moving out of inadequate housing.

Government Survey Confirms the Need for Letting Agent Fee Ban

Government Survey Confirms the Need for Letting Agent Fee Ban

The Government’s latest English Housing Survey, published on 21st July, found that 34% of private tenants who lived in unsatisfactory homes said that letting agent fees cost too much and would stop them from moving to another property.

A further 35% said that they would have to think about whether they could afford to move out if they were charged fees. Together, this equates to 502,000 households.

The same study found that the average cost of letting agent fees is £223, while 40% of private tenants paid a fee when they moved into their current home. To make matters worse, 30% of renters have lived in their home for less than a year.

Based on a renting population of 4.3m households, the research suggests that letting agent fees cost tenants around £115m per year.

However, Generation Rent believes that this is an underestimate. The campaign’s volunteers are conducting their own research into letting agent fees, which has already found that 800 agents across 12 local council areas are charging the typical two-adult household an average of £398 in upfront fees.

The campaign to ban letting agent fees is already gathering momentum. A petition organised by The Debrief website has amassed more than 250,000 signatures, while an early day motion in Parliament has attracted signatures from MPs on both sides of the House.

Additionally, Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Grender has introduced a private member’s bill, the Renters’ Rights Bill, in the House of Lords, which would ban fees for tenants. Peers are expected to debate the bill at committee stage later in the year.

The Director of Generation Rent, Betsy Dillner, says: “If a customer is getting bad service, they’re normally able to take their business elsewhere, but in our broken housing market, unhappy tenants are stuck because it costs so much to move. As a result, bad landlords get away with neglecting their properties.

“Letting fees are already perverse – agents charge inflated fees to tenants who aren’t even their customers. Landlords should be paying agents’ costs instead. And on top of that, tenant fees create a distorted market that isn’t responsive to the consumer’s needs.”

Do you agree with the plan to ban letting agent fees for tenants?