The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors has made an impassioned plea to the government to allow agents to recoup the ‘reasonable costs’ of putting prospective tenants through referencing and credit checks when the letting agent fees ban comes in during 2018.
The comments have been made by Jeremy Blackburn, RICS’s Head of UK Policy who yesterday published a blog warning the government that there may be unintended consequences of the ban.
He says these include rising rents as landlords pass on the extra costs to tenants and reduced rental stock as smaller and more vulnerable landlords decide to exit the market.
Blackburn also says that Build to Rent’s capacity to take up the slack of a shrinking private rented sector is doubtful, but says agents will have at least a year to prepare for the changes.
He says the Department of Communities and Local Government has told RICS that they re planning to take the longer route to legislation rather than rushing a ban through, and that this will give the industry until 2018 to prepare.
But Blackburn also says he is surprised that agents were caught off-guard by the Chancellor’s announcement last week.
“For the industry, early warning signals of this measure from the Conservatives included Zac Goldsmith’s commitments in his London Mayoral election manifesto – in the renewed focus on fees from housing charities and cross party backbenchers since the General Election – and finally in the focus on those ‘just about managing’ from the Prime Minister since the result of the EU Referendum,” he says.