Government outlines plan to ban letting agency fees
Letting agents will be banned from charging sky-high fees to tenants under Government plans published today.
Under the proposals, agents could be fined £5,000 by the civil courts if they are caught charging fees.
Those who repeat the offence within five years will face criminal charges or a fine of up to £30,000.
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said the Government wanted to stop tenants being “hit by surprise fees”.
The draft Tenant Fees Bill will also lay out plans to cap rental deposits at no more than one week’s rent and security deposits at no more than six week’s rent.
According to housing charity Shelter, letting agency fees are on average £300 per tenant and can rise above an eye-watering £500.
To compound the issue, the fees are often not clearly or consistently explained, leaving tenants paying out unexpectedly.
Mr Javid said: Tenants should no longer be hit by surprise fees they may struggle to afford and should only be required to pay their rent alongside a refundable deposit.
"We’re delivering on our promise to ban letting agent fees, alongside other measures to make renting fairer and increase protection for renters."
The Government has also launched a consultation on forcing letting agents to sign up to money protection schemes to protect landlord and tenant cash.
Responding to the announcement, Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey said: “Four years on from when I first suggested that the Government ban letting fees for tenants, Ministers are only now publishing a consultation.
“They should get on and put this ban on fees into law, and then adopt Labour’s other proposals to protect and empower private renters –new minimum standards, controls on rent rises and three-year tenancies.”