FAIR FEES FORUM – 13 July 2017
- A meeting of members of the Fair Fees Forum was held on 13 July 2017.
- Attendees included; British Property Federation, Chestertons, Connells, Countrywide, DPS, Hunters Property Group, National Approved Letting Scheme, National Landlords Association, Northwood, Ombudsman Services: Property, Shelter, Spicerhaart, The Property Ombudsman, The Property Redress Scheme, Winkworth.
- The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), Greater London Authority and Welsh Government also attended the Forum in listening mode.
The Group received an update on DCLG’s recent consultation on banning letting agent fees which had received 4,700 responses; 50% of which had come from tenants and the remainder from landlords and industry organisations.
Feedback from the consultation would form the basis of a Draft Bill to be scrutinised by a Select Committee before proceeding further in the parliamentary process. This was viewed positively by the Forum as it gave another layer of scrutiny to the content of the Bill and the opportunity for stakeholders to give evidence if called upon by the Committee.
It was agreed that the Forum would produce a submission to the Select Committee at the appropriate time but this did not preclude differing statements from members in submissions from their own organisations.
A government response to the consultation would be published prior to the Select Committee commencing their work which was likely to be later in the year but no specific date was confirmed.
Agent members of the Forum expressed frustration about the announcement in the Queen’s Speech regarding security deposits which they believed showed a lack of understanding about the way in which the sector operated and the rationale behind the current level of deposits.
They agreed to make further representation to government on this issue. DPS highlighted a recent survey that they had carried out in relation to a cap on holding deposits which indicated support for a cap but at a level of 6-8 weeks.
The Forum also wanted the government to ensure the forthcoming legislation addressed attempts by rogue operators to create ways to circumvent the ban e.g. with new charges introduced during a tenancy. Further information would be provided to government on this issue by members of the Forum.
It was confirmed that the Welsh Government would be issuing a consultation on letting agent fees shortly.
Since the last meeting of the Forum in late April, there had been further representation to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) regarding the potential consumer detriment as a result of the fee ban and the effect on competition.
The CMA had declined a review and indicated that they believed that the government had taken due account of the competition impacts of their proposals in its thinking.
The Forum also asked about the timescale for the introduction of mandatory Client Money Protection. It was confirmed that the government, as previously announced, intended to consult on this issue in due course.
The Forum discussed greater regulation across the sector and confirmed their view that a coherent and integrated approach was needed.
- A draft was circulated of a ‘How to Let’ guide for landlords prepared by NALS which would follow the format of the ‘How to Rent’ guide for tenants. Suggested amendments were to be sent to DCLG.
- A working group was announced to meet at the end of August to provide input into a NALS’ accreditation scheme for referencing companies.
- It was agreed to hold another meeting of the Forum after the release of DCLG’s Draft Bill to discuss the group’s response.
About the Fair Fees Forum
NALS originally created the Fair Fees Forum to bring industry, trading standards and consumer groups together to discuss the creation of a fair fees charter for the private rented sector, and look at alternatives to an outright ban.
The Communiqué reflects the views and comments of members of the Forum or interest subgroups.
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