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Posted on October 6th 2016 by admin-movingin

No ban on letting agent fees for now, housing minister tells ARLA

Original Author: Rosalind Renshaw

New housing minister Gavin Barwell has said he will not ban letting agent fees – for the time being.

Barwell’s stance emerged in the course of a meeting with ARLA’s managing director David Cox about improving the private rented sector.

At the meeting Cox raised a number of topics with the minister, including the recently passed Housing and Planning Act 2016.

The Act introduces a power for the First-tier Tribunal to serve a banning order on a landlord or letting agent who has been convicted of a Banning Order Offence.

The Government is due to consult very soon on what will constitute a Banning Order Offence.

Cox outlined to the minister the importance of ensuring that agents banned from lettings activity should also be banned and unable to carry out estate agency work and vice versa.

The minister responded to Cox’s lobbying for mandatory Client Money Protection for letting agents by saying that he would wait for the outcome of the CMP Review that is currently being undertaken by Lord Palmer and Baroness Hayter.

Cox said he hoped that responses to the review and the increasing number of news reports about cases such as Kelly Hodd who defrauded her former employer JMA Associates in St Leonards on Sea of £4,720 over a four-month period in 2015, will convince the Government that mandatory CMP is necessary.

On the issue of letting agent fees, the minister said that he was not inclined to ban them at this stage.

He did, however, say that he was working on a strategy to stimulate the supply of houses and help tackle the growing demand for homes that people can afford to buy.

Cox also brought to Barwell’s attention the need for greater enforcement of current regulations in the private rented sector – including both recently created and long-standing laws.

A potential new development was an acknowledgement by Barwell and his team about the need for the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) to be replaced with a ‘Fit for Human Habitation’ criteria.

ARLA has long campaigned for this because it claims the HHSRS is complicated and poorly understood by tenants, landlords, agents and enforcement officers.