Room for improvement on Draft Tenant Fees Bill

Though the banning of tenant fees in the private rented sector could save renters hundreds of pounds, the legislation implementing the changes could be improved.

This is according to the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee, who have concluded that there is room for improvement where the draft bill is concerned, having been asked to scrutinise it before it passes through Parliament.

The draft Tenant Fees Bill proposes that all payments, with the exception of rent, default fees, security deposits of up to six weeks and holding deposits of up to week, are prohibited. Whilst the Committee expressed that it is in favour of the proposals, it suggests that the maximum security deposit charged should be reduced from the current period of six weeks’ worth of rent to five weeks. It also highlights a need for greater funding in order to enforce the proposals as well as suggesting that the amount of default fee requires regulation, commenting that they are open to abuse.

Sharing his thoughts on the recommendations was MP Clive Betts. The Chair of the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee stated: “With more and more people living in the private rented sector, this legislation has the potential to make a difference to millions of people by cracking down on unfair fees and saving tenants hundreds of pounds.

“We believe however that there are clear improvements that could be made to the Bill that would ensure it has a much better chance of delivering on its aim of making renting fairer and easier.

“Moving home is already an expensive time and many people struggle to find large sums of money at the start of their tenancies to put down as a deposit.

“Lowering the cap from six weeks’ worth of rent to five will help make the private rented sector much more affordable, while also keeping protection for landlords from rogue tenants.

“We also had concerns about how the law will be enforced. Funding enforcement through the retention of fines gives local authorities a perverse disincentive to proactively engage with lettings agents and landlords.

“If councils are to be given this extra enforcement responsibility, they must either be given extra resources or the maximum amount of civil penalty needs to be increased.”

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