The government could force landlords to shoulder a big cost of renting for tenants

LONDON — Chancellor Philip Hammond is tipped to ban letting fees charged to renters in Wednesday’s Autumn Statement, instead shifting the cost to landlords.

The BBC reports that letting agents will be banned from charging tenants fees for things like reference and credit checks or immigration checks. Instead, landlord will pay these fees, which could create more competition in the market by encouraging them to shop around.

A report last year from charity Citizen’s Advice found that tenants pay on average £337 each and called the fees a “rip off.” The report urged the government to ban the fees, something that the Scottish government did in 2012.

Michael van Dulken, head of research at Accendo Market, says in an email on Wednesday morning that the Chancellor will “put cheaper housing front and centre by banning letting fees.”

He adds: “Critics say this will only push up rents and house prices, so expect estate agents (Foxtons, Countrywide, Winkworth, Savills, Purplebricks) to see their share prices move today as it could dent profitability.”

Hammond is also expected to announce a new programme of affordable home building to give low-income families a boost. Fiona Cincotta, a market analyst at City Index, says in an email on Wednesday morning: “The expectation is that Hammond will pledge £1.4 billion aimed at delivering 40,000 new affordable homes in Britain. When considering the extent of the housing problem faced with here in Britain, this will not resolve the problem but at least it remains on the agenda.”

The Chancellor is also expected to announce increase infrastructure spending to boost the post-Brexit economy and support for “jams” — families that are “just about managing.” You can read out full Autumn Statement preview here.

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