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Letting agent fee transparency rules have failed, warns ARLA Propertymark

  • 31/05/2017
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Letting agent fee transparency rules have failed, warns ARLA Propertymark
The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA Propertymark) has slammed the government’s previous attempts to improve transparency surrounding fees, arguing that the level of enforcement has been “woefully inadequate”.

The trade body, responding to the government’s latest consultation on its plan to ban letting agents from charging fees to tenants, said that the transparency measures introduced in 2015 had made little difference to standards or to improve competition.

It said that while the government had issued guidance to local authorities on how to comply with the new rules, no guidance on how to comply had been sent to letting agents. In addition, there has been almost no enforcement of the rules according to ARLA Propertymark, which noted that of the 32 London boroughs, only four had actually undertaken any prosecutions.

It concluded: “The level of enforcement across all aspects of landlord and tenant law is woefully inadequate. Until this issue is addressed and existing laws are properly enforced, we do not believe that new laws should be introduced as the result will be history repeating itself over again – professional landlords and agents will comply and the criminal element will continue operating under the radar.”

ARLA Propertymark also took aim at the proposal to ban letting agent fees, accepting that it was the “will of the government” but flagging up a host of issues with the idea and calling for certain exemptions. These include the ability to charge for referencing.

It said: “With such a chronic shortage of rental housing, allowing an exemption to the ban on letting fees for tenant referencing will make securing a rental home easier for those on low incomes or those who have a poor credit rating. By exempting referencing, agents will be able to maintain their current referencing services and will not be forced to take shortcuts or take the tenant who appears to be most likely to be able to pay the rent and most unlikely to require follow up Right to Rent checks.”

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