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Tenants in England still waiting for a ban on letting agents’ fees

Signing a tenancy agreement.
Just the beginning … finding a property to rent means paying an average £404 in letting fees Photograph: Jeffrey Blackler / Alamy Stock P/Alamy

It was in November last year that the government announced plans to ban letting agent fees paid by tenants. Almost a year on, there is still no date for when it is coming into effect – so how long are we going to have to wait?

The eye-catching move was announced by the chancellor, Philip Hammond, in his 2016 autumn statement, and an official consultation took place between April and June this year. It means tenants in England will no longer have to pay anything other than rent and a refundable deposit.

The Department for Communities and Local Government says it means tenants will be able to see at a glance what a property will cost them in terms of rent, “without any additional hidden costs”. There will also be a ban on letting fees being charged by landlords or other third parties, in order to prevent tenants having to pay “through the back door”.

But a DCLG spokesman could not give a specific date for the introduction of the ban. He said: “Our tenants fee bill will be first published in draft to ensure full scrutiny of our proposals by parliament and stakeholders before introducing the legislation formally. We shall publish the outcome of the public consultation on our proposals shortly.”

Renters pay an average £200-£300 in letting fees per tenancy, though for many it is significantly more, says the government. Campaign group Generation Rent found that the typical two-adult household is paying an average of £404 every time they move, with fees ranging from £40 to £813. Meanwhile, Shelter found that one in seven tenants pay more than £500.

However, there is some concern that the ban will simply push up rents.

This week, Newham council in London launched what it says is the UK’s first ratings scheme for letting agents. It has published a zero to five star rating for each agent registered in the borough. As a result, one agent, McDowalls, has scrapped tenant fees.

This article titled "Tenants in England still waiting for a ban on letting agents’ fees" was written by Rupert Jones, for The Guardian on Saturday 21 October 2017 06.00am

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