For four and a half months we've been waiting with bated breath for the government's proposals to ban fees, and today they were unveiled as the government finally launched its consultation.
The policy is no half-measure - tenants will not have to pay fees in connection with their tenancy outside of rent, refundable deposit, holding deposit and extra services they require during the course of the tenancy (e.g. replacing lost keys).
That means no upfront admin fees, reference fees, check-in fees, renewal fees or check-out fees. Not only will letting agents be banned from charging them, but so will landlords and third parties. According to our research (which was cited by the government in its consultation paper) the average couple will save £400 when they move.
It will be easier to compare different properties and plan finances when you're just looking at the monthly rent; letting agents will have no incentive to replace you after your initial tenancy ends; and it will be cheaper to move out if the property becomes unsuitable, or the landlord tries to raise rent.
It's no silver bullet to fix the housing crisis (there isn't one), but it gives tenants much-needed power as consumers.
That's why the lettings industry is throwing all it can at stopping the reforms - and why tenants need to make their voices heard too.
The consultation, which ends on 2 June, is our opportunity to explain what the fees ban will mean for us, and what problems this racket creates for people who have no option but to rent. There are 13 main questions (Section A), plus a section (B) with four questions aimed at renters.
The government is also running a series of workshops to hear from the people affected by the proposals. They are being held in:
- London, Friday 28 April, 9.30
- Birmingham, Tuesday 2 May, 9.30
- Manchester, Thursday 4 May, 9.30
- London, Friday 5 May, 9.30
- Bristol, Wednesday 10 May, 9.30
Full details of these events and registration can be found here.
We'll be going through the consultation questions in the next few days and putting together our verdict on the proposals.
We will also be doing more over the next 8 weeks to raise awareness of this consultation and encourage as many renters as possible to respond. You can help by signing up to volunteer here.