Letting fees ban 'will only hit 20% negatively' claims minister

Letting fees ban 'will only hit 20% negatively' claims minister

Housing minister Gavin Barwell says the government's proposed ban on letting agents levying fees on tenants will only negatively impact 20 per cent of landlords.

According to an ARLA report from a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Private Rented Sector earlier this month - attended by Barwell - the minister disputed that the ban would be universally costly for landlords, and subsequently for tenants. 

Barwell told MPs that while the implications of the scrapping of the letting agents fees needs to be assessed, HMRC predictions show that only a fifth of landlords would be hurt financially. 

The ARLA report goes on to say: "[Barwell] also said that since the change will be phased in it will not have as large an effect" - perhaps indicating that the ban may not be introduced in one go. 

"In response to concerns that landlords will have to up their rent to cover the costs of the fees, Barwell said that it is of course up to the discretion of the landlord to decide their fees. He said the government see the measure part of as creating a fair tax regime. He said the forthcoming consultation will not look at the value of the measure but will look at how it is implemented," according to ARLA.

In the session, Barwell is also reported to have made clear that Build To Rent - where institutional investment funds the construction and then management of purpose-built private rental apartments - would feature heavily in the government's long-awaited White Paper on Housing, expected by the end of January. 

Barwell told MPs at the committee that BTR is seen as good value for money and provides longer tenancies - a key objective of the current government.

Commenting after the APPG meeting, ARLA managing director David Cox said it was clear that the government was intent on implementing large scale changes to private renting in England.

"Since 1980s, England has been building up to 40 per cent fewer homes than the 240,000 needed annually. The resulting shortage of about two million homes has left the country with soaring prices and a growing gulf between the property haves and have-nots" says Cox. 

"Unfortunately, the government doesn't seem to realise that punishing hard-working letting agents who deliver a hugely valuable service will not in the long run improve the affordability of the sector and the service that tenants receive."

Article courtesy of Letting Agent Today | Sign up for Letting Agent Today newsletter | Get this news on YOUR site!