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Response to Autumn Statement announcement on letting fees

Waltham Forest Council has issued the following response to the announcement made in today’s Autumn Statement on the banning of letting agent fees -

Cllr Khevyn Limbajee, Cabinet Member for Housing said: “We welcome the announcement made in the Autumn Statement that letting agent fees will be scrapped, which is good news for renters who are struggling to find affordable properties due to the upfront costs imposed on them. While this is a positive step we need more action from the government to protect tenants in the private rented sector, such as greater controls on the levels of rent being charged and more powers to prevent the rising number of evictions from private properties.

“As a Council we are taking a proactive approach to improve housing across the borough, and are offering a wide range of services to support both tenants and private landlords. Our private rented property licensing scheme requires all privately rented properties to be individually licensed, which is helping us to drive up property standards, protect tenants and reduce anti-social behaviour.

“We are also offering a range of commercial services to support private landlords, including repairs and maintenance, pest control, house clearance and access to grants and training. In order to support landlords and tenants further the Council launched our own market rent lettings agency, Lettings Waltham Forest, in October to help key workers find homes locally. The scheme does not charge tenant fess and offers a range of competitive packages to landlords.

“The government can support us with this by offering greater freedom and access to funding for local authorities so we can continue delivering innovative solutions to improve the private housing sector locally. We would be happy to share our best practice with the government to help them develop their plans around this.”

“We are also still waiting for clarity from the government on the high value asset levy that they are planning to inflict on Councils to fund the Right to Buy extension to housing association tenants. I am calling on them to abandon this and allow us to focus our resources on increasing the amount of affordable housing available for our residents. The government should also reconsider the introduction of compulsory fixed term tenancies, as this will cause further uncertainty for tenants and unnecessary work for Councils.”

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