The Government has rejected a petition signed by nearly 10,400 agents that proposed a tenant fees cap instead of an outright ban.
Started by 29-year-old letting agent Rob Farrelly (pictured, below) who began his own business Friend & Farrelly Property Services eight years ago, e-petition 206569 was signed by agents all over the UK.
In its response to the e-petition, the Government has revealed its determination to plough on with its draft Tenant Fees Bill published on 1st November, saying it wants to see a rental market in which landlords and not tenants are the primary customer of agents.
As well as reiterating its belief that a fees ban will improve transparency and affordability for renters, and that fees are still not clear or explained, it claims that “many letting agents and landlords acknowledge that fees charged to tenants are currently not at a level that is justifiable and agree that intervention is necessary”.
“The Government does not believe that a cap would be effective and is likely to lead to a race to the top in terms of fees charged. A ban is easier to understand and enforce.”
Agents are also able to see a glimpse of the future shape of the industry from the response to the e-petition, which admits that agents will have to reconsider their business models when the bill comes into force, at the earliest in April next year.
This, the Government says, will give agents time to “negotiate their contracts”
Also, the Government expects more landlords to shop around for the service they want from letting agents and that therefore those which offer the best value for money will survive, while those that don’t are likely to go under.
It also says a fees ban will squeeze out rogue agents, who will no longer be able to “exploit their position between landlords and tenants”.
The response by the Government will now be considered by the Petitions Committee of 11 MPs and, if it reaches 100,000 signatures, be debated in Parliament.
Read what the e-petition’s author thinks of the government response.