Tenant Fees Bill

Written evidence submitted by Paul Atwell (TFB54)

I am writing to you regarding the government's intention to ban tenant fees and the affect it will have on our business along with other lettings businesses in Wiltshire.  

A recent article published by the Association of Residential Letting Agents calculated that it can take up to 17 hours to complete pre-tenancy works including referencing, credit checks, drawing up of paperwork, drawing up of inventory, Right to Rent Checks, testing smoke alarms on the day of moving and completing a check-in with tenants on the day of move-in.

I am sure that you too are familiar with the economic research commissioned by ARLA Propertymark which shows tenants are likely to pay an additional £103 per year in rent and result in shorter tenancies.

Whilst I agree that some tenant fees are excessive an outright ban will result in job losses within the industry, increase the price of rents as landlords look to cover their increased costs, and also harm some landlords financially who will then be responsible for covering the cost of referencing tenants when these tenants have no obligation to proceed with a tenancy or to provide honest application information. For example an applicant may apply for a property with the full knowledge that they are likely to fail due to bad credit or bad references, the landlord will be expected to cover this referencing cost and there will be no financial obligation for the applicant.

We currently have five offices within Wiltshire employing around 25 people. We were hoping to further expand however with the threat of online agents, increased legislation obligations for agents and the impending tenant fee ban - which may well result in the losses of jobs within our business, we are unable to do so.

There are hundreds of letting agents across the UK in this position and it is imperative that the likely job losses and impact on the sector is understood. I believe that excluding referencing from the ban or capping tenant fees would be fair. An outright ban will have a hugely negative impact on those working in the industry, tenants and landlords.

Overview:

There is no doubt the lettings industry needs further regulation and a cap on letting fees as there are agents out there that have taken advantage of this. 

A straight ban is not the correct answer, we need to look at what is deemed to be fair for all parties, letting agents should not have to do all this work for free but at the same time tenants need more transparent set charges for the work that goes into preparing and securing a property for them.

Landlords have been hit hard with the new taxation changes and this will only put more fear into the letting industry if it is not done in a fare way for all parties.

Paul Atwell
Managing Director
Atwell Martin Residential Lettings and Management

June 2018

 

Prepared 13th June 2018