There will be no U-turn on tenancy fees ban – it is here to stay, says top civil servant

The Government is keen to hear feedback on the tenant fees ban but has ruled out ever scrapping the policy.

Speaking yesterday in London at an Islington Trading Standards seminar, Rosie Gray, the lead on the Tenant Fees Act for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, said the department was keen to hear how the ban is developing.

However, her presentation slides stated there was no formal commitment to review the ban and said that it is here to stay.

She said: “The lead enforcement agency, Bristol City Council, will be collecting information on trends in the sector and will use it for how the policy goes forward.

“We want to hear about any issues from people on the ground, what is really happening and the problems the industry is facing.

“We know there will be challenges in year one.”

The question of how the ban will be policed was also raised yesterday after it emerged that the Government has failed to grant investigatory powers to Trading Standards officers.

This is despite its own guidance that it is up to the local enforcement bodies to police the changes.

Speaking yesterday, Gray said it was up to local councils.

But she was informed by delegates that Trading Standards have not been given the required investigatory powers that they usually have in other sectors such as to investigate a shop or car dealership for poor practices.

This means they can only ask rather than demand to see bank statements and cannot conduct interviews under caution.

Under the current guidance, Trading Standards officers have to prove beyond reasonable doubt, rather than on the balance of probabilities, that an agent has breached the fees ban or CMP regulations.

But Trading Standards officials say this requires criminal rather than civil powers, which they have been granted in other sectors but not to cover agency regulation.

Laurence Morton, another MHCLG representative, said the department was keen to hear feedback and would take issues on board.

He added that the department was also aware of issues agents were having in opening client money accounts for CMP protection since it was made compulsory in April.

Morton said: “There is flexibility for those making efforts and showing willingness to get CMP.

“The banking industry is working with the Government to ensure there is availability of client money accounts.”

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15 Comments

  1. Jrsteeve

    Let’s be honest, they couldn’t give a toss about hearing of issues that agents are having, they just want customer complaints.

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    1. Eyereaderturnedposter12

      Oh come on Jrsteeve, be reasonable! Ms. Gray did say they want to hear from “people”…!
       
      if the Government in recent years have taught us anything…Lettings Agents aren’t people…people need jobs, growth and errr, well…income.
       
      I’ve heard through a source that to circumvent the issues regarding investigation of Agents, the plan is to include Lettings Agents under the Terrorism Act in the not so distant future…so be positive…
       
      if we are prosecuted at least we’ll have a roof over our heads, three square meals a day, exercise and regular sex 😉

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  2. jeremy1960

    Frankly gov and civil servants do not give the proverbial s**t about anyone or anything other than themselves and their gold plated pensions so why would they care about the cost to our industry?

    All we can hope is that they alll lose their cushy “jobs” and that their pension scheme is withdrawn very soon! If consultation worked it would be top of my list but they even ignore consultation because they have nothing to lose.

    Sack the lot of them, withdraw all funding from faux charities who are nothing more than corrupt steering groups and start again it people who understand the business!

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  3. JamesB

    No way would these clowns unravel a top vote winning policy even if it is backfiring

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  4. LetItGo

    Don’t think its necessarily a vote winner, the way its going, tenants (or prospective ones in the first instance) are fed up with having to hit a 2 week deadline or lose their holding deposit and the now endless paperwork before even seeing a property. Once they get in they then get hit by rent increases to payback the Landlords who have had their fees double. There are losers in this TFB but the biggest ones will end up being tenants, the very ones it was implemented to help. Irony at its best, Agents have already adapted by increasing their fees, LL by increasing their rents, tenants are consumers that need to consume….so let them get on with it!

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    1. James Wilson

      There aren’t going to be big rent increases.   In my area in London there is a surplus of rental stock available.  

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  5. singlelayer

    It may not surprise you to know that, certainly in both the Treasury and MHCLG, the Civil Service (average age 27) completely and utterly rule the department. The following should scare every single democracy loving citizen…
     
    There are around 430,000 people employed in the civil service. Of these, 83,500 are based in London – an increase of more than 5,000 since 2017. The capital remains the region with by far the most civil servants, now by a margin of over 30,000.” [Institute for Government]
     
    There are two unions for them. The FDA is only open to HEO grade or above. [FDA’s website]
     
    The FDA is politically independent and is not affiliated to any political party.
     
    The other union for civil servants, the PCS, has abandoned political neutrality.  It is asking its members what they should do to get Corbyn and McDonnell into the highest offices in the land.
     
    “About PCS – The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) is one of the largest trade unions in the UK, with about 200,000 members. We are organised throughout the civil service and government agencies, making us the UK’s largest civil service trade union. We also organise widely in the private sector, usually in areas that have been privatised. We are a democratic organisation, run by our members, for our members. We campaign for fair pay and conditions, decent pensions for all and equality in the workplace and beyond. If you’re not a member of PCS, there’s never been a better time to join the union.” [PCS website ’About us’]
     
    “PCS political consultation – ADC 2018 agreed by supporting motion 41 that the election of a UK Labour government under the leadership and policies of John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn is in the interest of PCS members. Conference decided that we must develop an effective political strategy for the next general election that involves advancing our industrial agenda through national union support for a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour government.” [Consultation on PCS website]
     
    “Just as British politics has changed, PCS policy has changed with it. The view that a civil service union should not intervene in the political arena used to be widely accepted. But, as the civil service has been politicised by successive governments, and as cuts and privatisation programmes have fundamentally attacked PCS members’ terms and conditions, we have become more active in the political arena. At our 2016 conference, Jeremy Corbyn promised to restore national bargaining in the civil service and pledged to oppose cuts and repeal the Tories’ Trade Union Act. In June 2016 the NEC issued a statement which declared that we opposed the attempts by some Labour MPs to unseat Jeremy Corbyn and, whilst remaining an independent, nonaffiliated union, we believe that PCS members’ interests are best served by his continued leadership of the Labour party.” [PCS General Election booklet]
     

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    1. LetItGo

      Civil servants don’t make policy, they implement it.

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      1. Deltic2130

        They used to do that. Nowadays clueless politicians seek their advice and guidance on making policy first, then hand it back to them to implement once it’s done. The civil servants have developed more and more power and influence and can dictate policy to government through spin and persuasion when it should be nothing to do with them.

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      2. Gromit

        Ddi you never watch “Yes Minister”. It’s closer to the truth than you think!

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  6. Deltic2130

    I love that statement about how they’re keen to see how the policy develops but won’t be reversing it.

    What they seem to be saying is ‘even if it all goes down the shi**er, we won’t be doing anything about it’!

    Hardly the best way to govern, I’d suggest.

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    1. PossessionFriendUK39

      a bit like announcing the abolition of Section 21,  then having a consultation on it.

      They obviously think business is thick, or to use BoJo’s term – F#*k business.

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  7. Woodentop

    Rosie Gray, the lead on the Tenant Fees Act  
     
    Couldn’t be clearer, it is personal vendetta of non-elected civil servants sitting in ivory towers, who haven’t a clue and see no wrong.

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    1. James Wilson

      Banning completely unreasonable fees for tenants is a “personal vendetta”?   I think you need to re-acquaint yourself with reality.   This is a sensible and practical measure to end estate agents ripping off vulnerable tenants.  If you can’t make your business work without fleecing people maybe you should try your hand at something else?

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  8. James Wilson

    Did anyone seriously think the Government was going to U Turn on this?  This is a very popular measure.

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