The past four housing ministers, including the incumbent Gavin Barwell, have all previously opposed tenant fee bans, research has revealed, as the Government showed no sign of a U-turn in its consultation on scrapping the charges.
The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) has highlighted the discrepancy following the release of the long-awaited fee ban consultation on Friday.
In 2013, the then housing minister Mark Prisk said that a fees ban “cannot be the answer to tackle the minority of irresponsible agents”, while his predecessor, Kris Hopkins, described a ban as a “short-term gimmick” which would mean “higher rents by the back door”.
In 2015, Brandon Lewis, who is now a home office minister, said that it would “reduce the number of properties available to rent”.
Only last September current housing minister Gavin Barwell tweeted that it would be a “bad idea” which would increase rents.
He was forced into making a quick volte face when the ban was unexpectedly announced in the Autumn Statement, with a new tweet stating: “It is the nature of the job that you have to defend current policy even when you are working to change it.”
David Smith, policy director at the RLA and EYE legal guru, said: “High fees are clearly a problem for tenants, but this piecemeal approach will do nothing to address the fundamental problem, namely not enough homes to rent.
“As almost all housing ministers since the Conservatives came to power have noted, the proposals risk making rents more expensive, making life harder for tenants.”
Smith also warned that regulation without proper enforcement would only help rogue agents.