Sadiq Khan claims the Draft Tenants Fees Bill does not go far enough to protect tenants
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has criticised the Draft Tenants Fees Bill which looks at bolstering the rights of private rental tenants.
Whilst home ownership continues to decline and getting a foot on the property ladder is more difficult than ever, it is no surprise that the UK rental market has increased.
In the year between 2006 and 2016 there was a 24% increase in the number of private lettings. This is an increase of 1.3 million more houses now privately rented.
Staggeringly, since 2008, more people are renting houses compared with buying them. It is shocking that in such a vibrant market with so many potential customers, renters are exposed to such a myriad of ambiguous and confusing fees.
In the Draft Tenants Fees Bill, the government claim: “But whether you’ve been forced into life as a tenant or simply decided that it’s the best option for you, you deserve to know that you will be treated fairly and not ripped off by the people you rely on for finding and renting your home.
“Yet in too many cases that’s not happening, and that’s because the lettings market is simply not designed in the interests of the people it is supposed to serve.
“Tenants rely on agents to find properties, yet they are selected and appointed by landlords. That disparity can lead to tenants paying hundreds of pounds in fees that are far from transparent, substantially raising the costs involved in renting, and causing nasty surprises for new tenants who think they’ve found a home that suits their needs and budget.
“Nor is it easy for prospective tenants to understand and compare fees, thanks to significant variation in the way agents charge for their services. This kind of opacity is not accepted in other markets, and the lettings sector – on which millions of people rely – should be no different.”
Two of the main features in the draft bill concern the fees charged by letting companies and the amount that a tenant is expected to pay for a deposit.
The government have been criticised as being overly lenient on lettings companies by maintaining the six weeks rent as a ‘fair’ deposit price as long as this fee does not exceed £5000.
Many claim that this amount is too excessive, especially for any homeless person and those on low incomes. The six-week deposit, for an average London rental property, will mean a tenant will be ‘fairly’ expected to pay £2413.50 towards their tenancy deposit, based on the 2017 average.
These amounts, Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, claims are extremely unreasonable and are pricing people out of the market: “Rising rents, ongoing insecurity, and in too many cases poor quality housing make the 2.4 million private renters in London amongst those worst affected by the housing crisis. By backtracking on proposals and watering down the strength of this Bill, Ministers are in danger of opening the door to an entirely new culture of exploitation, with the legislation left unfit for purpose and simply a missed opportunity to truly help renters.”
Additionally, the bill attempts to make the currently murky area of tenancy fees a bit more transparent. Hannah Gretton, community organiser at Citizens UK, has said: ‘The Tenants Fees Bill has the opportunity to prevent millions of renters in London from being exploited by hidden fees and bad landlords, but unfortunately the current plans do not go far enough.
“Tenants paying such extortionate hidden fees is completely unacceptable. We’re urging the Government to scrap potentially exploitative default fees and give councils the stronger enforcement powers to deter criminal landlords.”
In the current market, fees can range from as little as £40 all the way to £813. The average letting fee per tenancy is between £200 and £300, with a two adult household paying an average of £404.
However, a report by Shelter found that one in seven tenants will pay more than £500 in tenancy fees.
Although critics like Khan remain in opposition of the governments draft tenancy bill, any restrictions and clarity will hopefully protect tenants from the ambiguous and confusing costs associated with modern house rental.
Do you welcome the findings of the draft bill? Do you agree with Sadiq Khan and his views concerning tenancy fees and deposits? Are tenants offered enough protection?