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The government will today introduce a draft bill to parliament to ban letting agents from charging high introductory fees to tenants across England. The bill comes as part of a reform of the private rental sector and was initially proposed in last November’s Autumn Statement.

The government’s goal in banning such fees is to reduce the high upfront charges imposed on renters as well as double charging landlords and renters for the same service, with seven out of ten people believing that letting fees affect their ability to rent a property.

The bill also suggests that deposits be capped at six weeks as well as strict rules will be implemented on the length of time that deposits can be held after moving out.

eMoov CEO, Russell Quirk, sees the ban as a positive move but one that hopefully won’t be bypassed by savvy letting agents who may have had their nose put out of joint.

The introduction of this bill brings us a step closer to levelling the playing field between letting agent and tenant and one that is certainly a step in the right direction. The rental sector can be a minefield of unforeseen costs and a ban on letting fees should make the whole process a lot more transparent and consumer friendly.
There is, of course, a danger that these agents will now try and recoup their losses through alternative means such charging higher fees to the landlord themselves. This would be an ‘around the houses’ way of bypassing the ban on letting fees, as any additional cost to the landlord is likely to be passed down the line in higher rents. The only upside is that at least this won’t be payable upfront and will go some way in reducing the initial barrier to entering the rental market as a tenant.
Russell Quirk

Founder & CEO, eMoov.co.uk