The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) says it believes the government may be considering banning only ‘upfront’ fees rather than implementing a total tenant fees ban.
ARLA managing director David Cox (pictured) says he has had several meetings with Department of Communities and Local Government officials and says that so far, they are talking only about upfront fees.
This, he says, would enable letting agents to spread the fees for services such as referencing, contract negotiation and paperwork preparation over the first months of a tenancy instead of before or at the point that the tenant moves in.
“It’s what we’ve been advocating within the Private Rented Affordability and Security (PRAS) working group since June,” says Cox.
The PRAS was set up in June by Housing Minister Gavin Barwell to ‘explore options to reduce costs for tenants who access and move within the sector’.
If ARLA gets its way then agents will be able to continue charging some elements of their current fees, although Cox says that even if it doesn’t and the government goes for a total ban, he believes ARLA can argue successfully for referencing fees to be excluded.
“I’ve had several meetings with Shelter and they agree that referencing should be treated differently to other tenant fees,” he says.
“What we’re saying to the industry and our members is that they should hold fire for the moment because if we start going in too hard too soon when the consultation is a blank piece of paper, and therefore shoot ourselves in the foot.
“I got the impression DCLG found out about the fees ban during the Hammond speech the same way we did, so that’s why the consultation may take some time; they hadn’t even begun preparing for it.”
Dramatic headline grabbing announcement, then the back-pedalling begins!
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