Philip Hammond’s announcement

There has been more than a hint of triumphalism in the media over Philip Hammond’s announcement this week that he plans to ban letting agents charging fees with an official announcement due in the Autumn Statement. Articles brimming with examples of tenants being charged exorbitant amounts of money and then being hit with more hidden charges are rife and in many cases quite true. Many Estate Agents charge a fee which is quite disproportionate to the amount of work undertaken to secure a tenancy. Tenants can and often do face the prospect of a crippling bill before they even get their feet through the door, but, and here is the thing; there is a service being carried out, a service that needs remunerating. The agent has a professional responsibility to check prospective tenants financially to offer their client the Landlord a reasonable and safe candidate. The prospective tenant must in some way show a commitment to their desired property or they could in theory walk down the street into another Agent and book another house or flat creating confusion to all concerned. We at Chas R Lowe in East Barnet feel passionately about how Agents are perceived but rather than pass a draconian law like he has done maybe Mr Hammond should have set a cap on what can be charged or insisted that Agents improve transparency of what they are charging. Ultimately someone has to pay the fees, and Alan Ward who is the chair of the Residents Landlords Association has said that Landlords will increase rents in response to the policy if they are burdened with the cost of the fees. This can only have a detrimental effect on the tenants as they will pay in one form or another in the long run.