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We won! Letting agents fees banned

Hackney digs protest 6th July 2013 281Today marked a victory for renters and housing activists as the government announced letting agents fees would be banned.

This will make a real difference to the lives of renters. We can expect to pay a letting agent over £500 for “services” like printing, reference checks and immigration checks, most of which serve the landlord rather than us. Chancellor Philip Hammond said shifting the cost to landlords will save 4.3 million households hundreds of pounds.

To be a renter is very often to feel totally powerless. But today’s announcement shows what can be achieved when communities get organised and turn up the heat on those who hold power.

This a massive triumph for everyone who have been fighting to end fees.  In 2013, Digs, alongside other renter groups began our ‘Let Down‘ campaign demanding an end to these ridiculous fees.

Another reason to be cheerful, Foxtons share price plummeted 13% in one hour following the news that they’d no longer be able to line their pockets with rip off fees.

fox-sm

Predictably, letting agents are saying this announcement will spell the end of days. Many argue that ending fees will “force” up rents as landlords pass new letting agents fees onto their tenants. But in Digs we’re very familiar with these kind of doomsday predictions from agents and landlords as soon as anything is proposed that might cut into their dizzying profit margins. In Scotland, where fees are already banned, there is no evidence of a stark increase in rents following a ban on fees.

None of us saw this victory coming. Until today, demands that fees be banned were roundly shot down by Conservative politicians. Today’s announcement shows that we have more power than we thought.

What next? 
There’s still tons more to do. Here are some of the top demands on our renter hit list:

  1. Rent control – whether you call it rent control, rent caps or rent stabilisation, we need a system to stop monstrous, unfettered rent increases
  2. Stop letting agents and landlords denying homes to people on benefits – we’re campaigning on this through our #YesDSS campaign
  3. Longer secure tenancies

Join us THIS MONDAY (28th Nov) at 7-9pm where we’ll be planning the next steps in our fight to make renting fairer. Come to the New Kingshold Community Centre, 49 Ainsworth Road, E9 7JE. Map here.

We’re planning a big, lively action demanding that letting agents stop discriminating against people on benefits. Come and get involved!

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