As the Tenant Fees Bill passes to its Third Reading within the House of Commons and the Report Stage, MPs have recommended a series of amendments to the proposed legislation.
Earlier this month, it was discovered that the Tenants Fee Bill would contain an adjusted default fee plan, which will grant landlords and letting agents reimbursement in the way of ‘reasonable incurred costs’ for small damages. Proof of these costs must then be given to the renter before the landlord or agent can enforce any deductions.
The Department for Communities, Local Government and Housing has stated that these measures will effectively put an end to the over-charging of tenants by hundreds of pounds for damaged items that in reality only cost a few pounds to fix. The Department gave the example of a tenant facing a bill of £60 by letting agents to restore smoke alarms, when a service provided by the local council would have replaced the smoke alarms for free.
Further planned amendments were announced yesterday in a move to minimise the amount of time that landlords have to reimburse any fees which have been ruled to have been charged unlawfully.
MP Rishi Sunak released an official statement from the government stating that whatever their financial situation, tenants across Britain should not be faced with wrongful costs by landlords or letting agents. He emphasised that the current government is driven in its ambitions to ensure the UK housing market works for all, and believes that this new legislation included in the Tenants Fees Bill, is intended to make renting more transparent and fair for all.
However, Conservative MP Kevin Hollinrake, founder of Hunters, a franchise agency, whilst speaking at the House of Commons earlier this month, stated that the bill still has faults. He has explained that the measures could, for example, hinder landlords in situations where a the tenant misplaces their key and a company must be called to let them back into the property, which requires a payment.
Hollinrake has explained that in the case of fees such as these, letting agents and landlords should not be made responsible for payment. Instead, a distinction must be made between lawful charges and fees, which should be detailed within the Tenant Fees Bill.
ARLA Propertymark’s chief executive, David Cox, has stated that he is disappointed that the Bill has been approved by the House of Commons. Recently, working alongside MP Daniel Kawczynski, he attempted to make an amendment to the Bill to allow landlords and letting agents to charge tenants up to £300.
Although this addition to the Bill was unsuccessful, it demonstrates that MPs and those within the industry acknowledge the inadvertent effects of the fee ban on landlords and letting agents, with some within the Government listening to the valid concerns of the sector. As the Tenants Fee Bill moves to the House of Lords, David Cox has stated that they will continue to work on highlighting the effects that the ban will have on the entire private rented sector.
The Labour Party proposed further amendments to the legislation, including the closure of a loophole which enables landlords to fine tenants if they break the tenancy agreement. However, these changes were rejected.
Ensure you are being transparent and fair to your tenants – start using a property inspection app today to produce professional inventories, check-ins, check outs, interim inspections, building inspections, risk assessments and more with InventoryBase.
Start your free trial here today.