National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS) CEO ex Isobel Thomson (pictured) has criticised the government’s proposed ban on tenant lettings fees and called for an impartial report by the Competition and Market Authority (CMA) into the lettings market.
Her comments follow the CMA’s recent recommendations for the legal services sector, which after a year-long investigation found that lawyers need to be more transparent about pricing and join a redress scheme, legal requirements that agents must already meet.
“Despite the findings of the report, which calls for more transparency, the legal industry has been allowed to continue without the same level of government intervention the lettings industry will face with a ban on fees,” she says.
“The proposed ban is based on limited research and anecdotal evidence, as well as a lack of understanding of the likely consumer detriment that will be caused by removing payment for the services the agent provides.
“We believe more impartial information is crucial in advance of taking such a drastic measure as a ban.
“Given the government’s focus on improving the experience for the consumer across a number of sectors, and the importance of the private rented sector, NALS believe the CMA is best placed to undertake a report into fees and charges in the lettings market and how it should best operate to ensure a fair, safe experience for tenants, landlords and agents.”
In November NALS set up an industry forum including leading agents and representatives of two redress schemes and officials from the Department of Communities and Local Government to hammer out at an industry-wide agreement to cap fees. Chancellor Phillip Hammond then announced the proposed outright fees ban in his Autumn Statement, only a few weeks later.
NALS says it will press for a CMA investigation into the lettings market at the forum’s next gathering in January.