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Lettings transparency will hit hard

Ryan Fowler

May 13, 2014

He said the cost of transparency for lettings agents will pass down the chain to the tenant after today’s announcement by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Whittaker said: “Regulation never drives efficiency, in the case of the landlord it is passed on to the tenant.

“It is necessary however as there has been serious abuse, but most of the good letting agents have been regulated.

“The problem is the ones that can take a whole load of deposits and go in three months.”

Currently letting agents are only required by the Advertising Standards Authority to list compulsory charges to the tenant up front.

But soon they will have to publish the full details on their websites and prominently in their offices.

Anybody who fails to comply with the rules will face a fine.

But Whittaker said landlords should also be accountable.

He added: “While lenders need to smarten themselves up – so do landlords.

“Anyone who is a landlord in buy-to-let is acting in a business capacity and should be aware of all the costs already.

The government will review the requirement for greater transparency after a year to ensure it is going as planned.

Kris Hopkins, housing minister, said: “The vast majority of letting agents provide a good service to tenants and landlords.

“But we are determined to tackle the minority of rogue agents who offer a poor service.

“Ensuring full transparency and banning hidden fees is the best approach, giving consumers the information they want and supporting good letting agents.

Trade bodies have warned against blanket bans on fees for tenants, which could increase rents.

Hopkins added: “Short-term gimmicks like trying to ban any fee to tenants means higher rents by the back door.

“Excessive state regulation and waging war on the private rented sector would also destroy investment in new housing, push up prices and make it far harder for people to find a flat or house to rent.”

Another planned measure is a “how to rent” guide for tenants to help them understand exactly what they should expect from their rental deal


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