More rental reform needed despite letting fees ban, says Sutton MP Tom Brake

CARSHALTON and Wallington MP Tom Brake has pledged to continue with the Reform Renting campaign following plans to ban letting fees announced in yesterday’s Autumn Statement.

The Liberal Democrat said he would not relent in fighting for more reforms, including mandatory electrical checks and a rogue landlords’ register.

He slammed the Government’s ‘previous ambivalence’ to issues raised in the Renters’ Rights Bill, presented to Parliament by the Lib Dems in June.

“The prime minister previously voted against the proposed bans on letting fees and the housing minister stated just months ago that bans were a ‘bad idea’,” he said.

“The Liberal Democrats will continue putting pressure on the Government to ensure that they stick to their word and fully implement these essential reforms.”

Letting Fees UK research highlights astronomical letting fees with agencies in Croydon charging average £448.

Some agencies in the borough charge as much as £698 per person.

Similarly high numbers were reported in Wandsworth, with average fees at £379, and the Lambeth average is £403.

Research by housing and homeless charity Shelter found one in seven private renters pay more than £500 in fees.

Its chief executive Campbell Robb said: “Millions of renters in England have felt the financial strain of unfair letting agent fees for far too long, so we’re delighted with the Government’s decision to ban them.

“This will make a huge difference to all those scraping by in our expensive, unstable renting market.”

The charity has been working with Generation Rent calling for further policy against unfair evictions.

Their interim director Dan Craw said: “The ban will benefit tenants in many ways, by ending the need to raid savings in order to move, by making it easier to compare properties, by giving them greater bargaining power and by removing an incentive for letting agents to churn properties.

“This is a step towards a healthier housing market but won’t fix the crisis – especially in London where rents are unaffordable for ordinary earners.

“We need much greater action on rents, including building more homes, while giving renters greater protection against unfair evictions.”

Green London Assembly Member Sian Berry also highlighted the need for more action to ensure Londoners are not priced out of the rental market.

She said: “Too many London renters are driven into debt when we move because of the nasty, unpredictable shock of sky-high fees being charged for seemingly trivial services like printing an inventory.

“But an end to letting agent fees alone won’t stop Londoners being priced out of our city.”

She called to London Mayor Sadiq Khan to do more to ensure that ‘power is devolved for cities to set controls on rent rises’.

“With 30% of the UK’s renters living in London, and with our average rents now about £1,500 per month, London’s renters need more action from this Autumn Statement,” she said.

Abolishment of letting fees will significantly affect renters in London where, according to research by HomeLet, rental figures are 71% higher than the rest of the UK.

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