Honest profits of thousands of small businesses squeezed today.....
Today was the day that Chancellor Philip Hammond confirmed plans to ban letting agents' fees to tenants in England. It is unclear what constitutes letting agents fees to tenants;
- Is it the disbursement we pay to 3rd party referencing agents such as Agent Assured, Maras or Paragon?
- Is it the fee that represents the cost we pay to get our tenancy agreements drafted or licenced use?
- Surely it is not the Inventory Clerk's charge?
- And, what where the Agent has invested in staff training to provide these services in-house - are they now to be penalised?
Whilst the details of this important announcement are very unclear there is a promise that in Spring 2017 the DCLG will consult ahead of legislating.
For those Agents like us who have already invested in technology it may hurt less, our portal planetrent.co.uk enables us to
- take e-offers at the viewing, which
- nudges landlords to accept offers, and
- enables tenants to go home and do their referencing,
- takes payments by phone,
- sends out contracts for e-signing to landlords, tenants and guarantors,
- triggers authority to release keys, and
- a series of pre-move in checks
So whilst one can argue that if we are e-signing contracts and tenants are referencing at home arguably we have innovated to prepare, but how do we recover our 150,000 investment?
ARLA do not believe that these measures will tackle rogue landlords or agents who will continue to operate outside the law.
ARLA is extremely disappointed that this announcement has been made without a strong basis of evidence. We are asking the Chancellor and the Housing Minister for a meeting at their earliest opportunity in order to ensure that they fully understand the damage that this will cause to housing standards and the impact on the cost of renting. But we then come full circle to - how does the government expect agencies which represent a huge number of small businesses to recoup their capital investment costs.
So whilst the legislative burden and our admin continues to grow we don't have the tax payer to pay for IRIS eye scanners or counterfeit passport training to help us become unpaid UK Border Force employees. We cannot look to our landlord's for help as despite buy-to-let properties being the best answer to the pensions crisis our landlord's are being squeezed as 'mortgage interest tax relief' and 'wear and tear' allowances are phased out. So once again small business is hit whilst we drink coffee, search and bank with legalised tax evaders and our industry once again takes the brunt of successive governments? inability to provide sufficient housing stock.
Author : Mary-Anne Bowring
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