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Tenant fees ban WILL drive up rents and lower property standards, MPs are told

Revelations come thick and fast as DCLG Select Committee grills experts on looming legislation.

Nigel Lewis

tenant fees ban MPs put the new housing minister Sajid Javid’s tenant fees ban legislation under scrutiny last night, and it was proven to be lacking on several fronts.

Landlords are likely to increase their rents across the tenancy to pay the extra costs of running a tenancy, something the new law can’t stop, and that there is a substantial risk local councils will impose unjustifiably high fines on agents and landlords to finance enforcement, in the absence of government support, it was claimed.

The other key criticism made during the session was that the draft bill is likely to be self-defeating – lower fees will mean letting agents are less incentivised to help landlords run their properties professionally.

These views were all the more surprising given they came from experts from the policy end of the sector, not agents.

The two-hour long session was held by the parliamentary committee that oversees Sajid’s department, the Select Committee that oversees the newly renamed Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Tenant fees ban

Headed up by MP Clive Betts plus 11 other MPs, it quizzed three experts in the field about how effective the bill will be.

These were Shelter’s Head of Policy Kate Webb, the University of York’s Centre for Housing Policy Dr Julie Rugg and Professor Ian Loveland from the City Law School.

Several debates raged during the hearing including whether the bill was legally watertight enough, whether councils will have the resources to police it (they won’t, the experts said), weaknesses in the role of the new housing tribunal, the high level of fines – remember agents and landlords face paying up to £30,000 if they are caught flouting the new law – and whether the bill will drive the quality of rented properties down as landlords seek to save money.

tenant fees banShelter’s Kate Webb (pictured, left) also claimed controversially that the poorer the tenant, the higher the fees letting agents charge them, while Ian Loveland picked numerous holes in the bill’s drafting, which he suggested was not robust enough to withstand legal challenges given the huge fines involved.

The MPs also debated how letting agents should be fined – and whether it should be based on the additional fees levied on a single property illegally or whether the bill should look at their whole portfolio and then fine them accordingly.

The draft Tenants’ Fees Bill will now go to report stage before a third reading.

To add your name to petition the Government to reconsider the Tenants’ Fees Bill follow this link https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/206569

Read more about the draft Tenants’ Fees Bill.

January 9, 2018


  1. Where does Kate Webb get her misguided information from??? The private rental sector is not designed for people that need to be in social housing. Shelter should be putting pressure on the government to provide affordable housing for low income families. In rural settings the rental market and fees charged are nothing like the information given by such as Shelter. The private rental market was never set up as a vehicle to support social housing needs and therefore should not be attached. If they are wanting to target unscrupulous landlords and exorbitant fees cap the fees and/or force landlords to use an agency where the properties can be regularly inspected and repairs can be affected in a timely manner.

    Banning fees for such as the rental market in rural parts means that in such places as North Yorkshire will only bring about a shortage of rental properties when landlords refuse to pay for the extra costs. Goodness knows they have little tax incentives as it is. Thus deciding to turn their properties into holiday cottages and therefore taking them off the rental market making it harder to find a home for many people. Most landlords in rural settings are not professional landlords with small or large portfolios they are ordinary people who have inherited properties or have family owned properties going back generations or have bought properties as a retirement pension with the view to possibly being able to retire to a beautiful part of the country and just want to let their properties with minimum fuss knowing that they are being professionally looked after by a reputable agent.

    Please, before this gets out of hand Kate Webb, look beyond the M25 and large cities and understand what renting means for more people than the people who need social housing and speak to people who know the rural areas.

  2. When is Government going to sensibly consult with the industry before ploughing ahead with new property legislation? Anybody could see that this ridiculous ban will simply push rents up negating any saving on application fees and even increasing the cost of longer tenancies. Home Information Packs all over again and how long did they last??????

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