16 January 2019
Fees charged to tenants are to be outlawed on all new tenancies signed after June 1.
The long-awaited announcement of a date for introduction of the ban was made by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, the Government’s housing spokesperson in the House of Lords, during the Tenant Fees Bill’s Third Reading yesterday.
He said: “Implementation is subject to the parliamentary timetables and amendments need to be considered in the other place [the House of Commons].
“We need to enable agents and landlords following Royal Assent to become compliant but we intend for the provisions to come into force on June 1, 2019.
“This would mean the ban on lettings fees would apply to all tenancies signed after this date.”
Isobel Thomson, chief executive of the National Approved Lettings Scheme, said: “At last agents have clarity on the date of implementation of the fee ban which the Government has laid great store by in terms of improving the lot of tenants.
“Only time will tell whether that is the case or whether tenants will end up paying more through increased rent.
“We believe that good, professional agents will be able to meet the challenges facing their businesses as a result of the ban but it is vital that enforcement is ramped up to ensure that all agents comply with the requirement and those who flout it are dealt with appropriately.”
David Cox, chief executive of ARLA Propertymark, said: “This now gives agents the legal certainty they need to prepare for a post-tenant fees ban world.
“To learn about the intricacies of the legislation, we encourage agents to come to our regional meetings over the next few weeks and of course our annual conference, where ARLA Propertymark will be doing everything it can to help agents plan and prepare for the introduction of the Bill.”
Agents can also look north of the border where tenant fees have been banned in Scotland since 2012.
David Alexander, managing director of agency software provider apropos, who also runs a lettings agent in Scotland, said: “Some agents have been charging substantial fees to tenants with little explanation why these charges applied other than for ‘administration’ which has been an area of complaint for tenants.
“This Bill will resolve many of these issues. The relatively quick implementation of the Bill could pose substantial problems for some agents, but it was clear that this legislation was coming, and the sector should have been preparing for its arrival.
“Similar changes were implemented in Scotland in 2012 which ended agency fees and cleared up deposit holding by landlords and agents, and in general most coped well with this.