1. The Fair Fees Forum met on Friday 13 January
2. Attendees at the Forum included; Belvoir, Chestertons, the Connells Group, Countrywide, Hamptons, Hunters, LSL Property Services, Northwood, Savills, Spicerhaart, Touchstone, Winkworth, Shelter, Association of Residential Letting Agents, National Approved Letting Scheme, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, National Landlords Association, Residential Landlords Association, Greater London Authority (in listening mode), The Property Ombudsman, Ombudsman Services: Property, Property Redress Scheme and Department for Communities and Local Government (in listening mode).
3. The group reviewed and discussed information collated and supplied since the last meeting which included:
• A comprehensive overview of the work of an agent before and during all stages of a tenancy;
• Available evidence on the fee ban in Scotland and how it had been implemented;
• The impact and implications of a ban on all parties in the rental process: tenants, landlords and agents;
• The impact of the ban on the work of redress schemes and the need for clarity for consumers as well as robust enforcement
4. DCLG reminded the group that it was the political will of Government to ban fees. Therefore, the excellent work of the group should be focussed on continuing to provide evidence and data to help inform Government on the fee ban and how best to make it work.
5. The Group discussed the implications of the fee ban in terms of loss of service to tenants, increased cost for tenants in accessing a tenancy, potential decrease in choice of agent for consumers, and, an increase in self-management by landlords all of which were set against a backdrop of a lack of regulation in the sector.
6. An overarching message that came from all members was the upmost need for clarity, transparency and effective enforcement of the ban.
7. The Group considered the proposal from NALS for a Competition and Markets Authority CMA) review into fees and charges in the lettings market and how best it should operate. The Group agreed to the proposal and to contacting the CMA as soon as possible with their request ahead of the Government consultation being launched.
8. The Group agreed to meet again when the consultation has been issued, in order to examine the detail and to consider areas where a joint response from the Group could be made. Members of the Group will also provide individual responses to the consultation and share them, if they choose.
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.
In light of the announcement of a ban on fees, the Forum’s Working Group is working together to inform the scope of the Government’s consultation.
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