Promising tough action on rogue landlords and a ban on letting fees, UK Housing and Planning Minister Alok Sharma gave his first major address at RESI 2017 in September.
“A ban will help to deliver a more competitive, more affordable and more transparent lettings market across the rest of the sector,” he said. Tougher measures to target rogue landlords will include civil penalties of up to £30,000 and an extension of rent repayment orders. “We intend to introduce a database of rogue landlords and property agents convicted of certain offences.”
These kind of measures are welcomed by the property industry as a whole, as a means of improving its reputation and deterring unprofessional or criminal individuals or businesses. Anyone convicted of ‘serious and prolific’ offences may be banned from the industry altogether.
Sharma’s reason for proposing a lettings fee ban is that some agents are charging excessive fees. He dismisses fears that rents will rise as a result of the fee ban, and also rejected calls for rent controls. “Evidence from the UK and around the world shows that rent controls lead to fewer properties on the market, and higher rents as a result,” he said.
Sharma proposes to introduce wider regulation of letting agents and landlords in future, as part of a review of the whole sector.