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Housing: Lettings Fees

Volume 778: debated on Thursday 19 January 2017


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to implement the ban on lettings fees announced in the 2016 Autumn Statement.

The Government are committed to introducing legislation as soon as possible to implement the ban on letting agent fees for tenants. We will consult in March/April on the detail of the ban and will consider the views of property agencies, landlords, tenants and other stakeholders before introducing legislation. Impact assessments will follow the consultation and support the detail of banning fees to tenants.

Does the Minister understand our need to see the small print, given the arguments he made against the proposal during the progress of my Private Member’s Bill? Does he recognise that all fees—up-front, renewal and exit—charged to tenants need to be included in the ban for it to work?

My Lords, first, I pay tribute to the work that the noble Baroness does on this matter. With her background in Shelter, she certainly knows what she is talking about. It is important that we have detailed consultation. I am sure that she will be pleased to hear that officials were in Scotland yesterday to learn lessons from there. I have sympathy with a wide-ranging ban on fees, although we have to be careful to ensure that we get it right through the consultation. For example, if somebody loses their key, it is legitimate that they should pay the letting agent for getting a new one. But I agree with the general thrust of what she says.

My Lords, will the Minister look at some other issues affecting the private rented sector: soaring rents, a rising tide of evictions, and a great lack of security because tenancies can be terminated legally after a very short period? Is that not a matter that the Government should address?

My Lords, the noble Lord addresses wider issues. He will probably know that the DCLG working party on affordability and security has reported and we are now considering our response to it, which will cover many of the issues that he just raised.

Are we any closer to having the draft or final regulations under the Housing and Planning Act 2016, which we wanted in the pretty early days even before we started discussing it when it was a Bill? We kept being told that we would get them and, as far as I know, we still have not.

My noble friend is perhaps aware that I have written to noble Lords, partly in response to her previous Question, giving a detailed timetable in so far as I have it on when the regulations will be brought into force, but I will circulate it to her again in case it has gone missing.