Under plans announced in the Autumn Statement, lettings agents in England will be banned from charging fees to tenants “as soon as possible”.
Tenants can currently be charged a range of administration fees for the simple and necessary task of signing a tenancy agreement. These fees may run into three digits, are non-refundable and often leave tenants confused.
Many student lettings agents charge “application fees”: charging students for processing an application, before a deposit has been paid or any contract signed. In Liverpool, Topproperty charge £80 per person in application fees, as do Address Properties. Meanwhile, Accommod8 charge £200 for the group, and Liverpool Student Lets charge £100 per student.
Chancellor Philip Hammond said shifting the cost to landlords will save 4.3 million households hundreds of pounds.
Tom Marchant, a 21-year-old History and Politics student, said: “I think it’s been a long time coming, this will put a stop to systematic exploitation of students by predatory agencies.”
However, David Cox, managing director of the Association of Residential Letting Agents (Arla), said: “A ban on letting agent fees is a draconian measure, and will have a profoundly negative impact on the rental market.
“It will be the fourth assault on the sector in just over a year, and do little to help cash-poor renters save enough to get on the housing ladder. This decision is a crowd-pleaser, which will not help renters in the long-term. All of the implications need to be taken into account.
“Most letting agents do not profit from fees.”