Two new amendments have been made to proposed regulations on the fees lettings agents charge tenants.
Amendment 1 – banning fees
Last week, the House of Commons voted against an amendment to the Consumer Rights Bill attempting to ban lettings agents charging fees to tenants.
The amendment proposed that fees charged by lettings agents to tenants applying for a tenancy should be banned, leaving the tenant responsible only for paying the deposit and rent.
The amendment was proposed by the Labour Party following concerns raised over the cost of living for tenants and ‘rip off’ fees. It was swiftly highlighted the potential unintended consequences of such a ban on fees to MPs on both sides of the House. Potential knock-on effects to consider include:
- increases in rents to cover the additional costs visited upon landlords
- reduction in supply if landlords exit the market
- the viability of regulated and responsible agents.
RICS Members will be aware that such fees are banned in Scotland.
Amendment 2 – greater transparency
In advance of the vote, the government announced their intention to propose a future alternative amendment to the bill: that letting agents should publish a full tariff of their fees, both on their websites and prominently in their offices. Agents that do not comply would face a fine – a stricter penalty than the present sanction available to the Advertising Standards Agency.
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