Calls for Wales to follow suit as England bans agency fees

By Matthew Proctor

In a shock statement last Wednesday (November 23), the chancellor announced the banning of agency fees across England.

The policy, picked from the labour 2015 manifesto, will be implemented over the coming year, after a consultation period with the department for communities and local government.

Campaigners who have been working on this issue were astonished to hear the government u-turn for renters in England, given both the chancellor and the prime minister voted against the measure just two years ago.

Whilst the policy has been cherry picked from the 2015 UK labour Manifesto, it has outmanoeuvred welsh labour who have to clarify whether the ban will be implemented in Wales. Indeed, welsh labour, ignored the call to ban agency fees in the 2014 Wales Housing Act, despite previous electoral promises from candidates.

Despite the lack of clarity in the autumn statement, this is ultimately good news for students, as the pressure for wales to join England, Scotland and NI in banning agency fees can only grow.

Despite this move being welcomed by Charities such as shelter, The policy itself has been criticised by Letting Agencies, who claim they will pass on the cost to tenants in the form of higher rents.

The industry association for landlords released the following statement

“Agents’ fees have to be paid by somebody. If any extra fees are passed on to landlords, tenants will end up paying them forever as market rents will increase.

This directly opposes research in Scotland which shows the neglible impact of banning fees on rental prices. This is because most of the price of renting is driven by demand side dynamics in that landlords extort the maximum rent available, irrespective of costs.

Students should therefore welcome the news and celebrate the eventual curtailing of letting agencies abusing their market power.