Thursday, 8 May 2014

Labour to call Commons vote on letting agent fee ban

Labour are to call a vote in the Commons in an attempt to ban letting agents from charging fees to tenants.

Party leader Ed Miliband said people who buy a house are not charged fees by agents, but people who rent are.

He said Labour was "determined to stand up for generation rent" and deliver an "immediate financial benefit" to people who do rent.

The Association of Residential Letting Agents said it was "deeply concerned" by Labour's proposals.

Labour will table its proposal as an amendment to the Consumer Rights Bill in the Commons on Tuesday.

Under the party's plans estate agents would no longer be able to charge a letting fee for renting out properties in addition to requiring a deposit and the first month's rent upfront.

Mr Miliband said: "If the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats support us on Tuesday we can make this happen now. That could be implemented straight away."

During exchanges at Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday, David Cameron indicated that he would be prepared to work with Labour on its other proposals for longer term tenancy agreements, although he rejected blanket rent controls.

Mr Miliband said: "David Cameron seemed to be warming to Labour's policy on rents. Now he has a chance to actually vote for it."

Earlier this month the Labour leader, while unveiling his party's new slogan "Hardworking Britain better off", outlined further his party's plans to fight for a "fairer deal" for tenants who rent.

He said Labour wanted to see a cap on rent increases in the private sector as well as scrapping agent fees.

But Ian Potter, managing director of the Association of Residential Letting Agents, said Labour's plans could have an "adverse affect on tenants".

He said: "The challenge we have today is an unregulated market and a worrying lack of supply.

"Pledging to transfer fees to landlords or calling for outright bans will increase rents as landlords and agents seek to achieve returns. Fees are not arbitrary or unnecessary; they represent a business cost that Labour has failed to recognise.

"Political posturing on an issue that has such a great impact on people's lives is unfair."

The prime minister's official spokesman has declined to comment on Mr Miliband's recent comments.

Following Tuesday's vote, the Consumer Rights Bill will still need to go through a third reading in the Commons, after which it will be considered by the House of Lords before being enacted as law.

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