Last Updated: 18 February 2019
Created: 17 February 2019
North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson has welcomed a new law which would protect tenants from unfair letting fees.
Earlier this week the Tenant’s Fees Bill received Royal Assent, bringing an end to unfair and costly charges from landlords and letting agents.
Under the new law, deposits are now capped at a maximum of 5 weeks rent – which is expected to save tenants across England £240 million a year, around £70 per household. Similarly, security deposits are also capped at 5 weeks rent – giving renters the security that they will not be expected to pay more than this.
Landlords and letting agents will now have to prove that any charges they make are reasonable and provide evidence to justify these charges. This will ensure that renters are not charged extortionately for items which are inexpensive to replace.
The Act also makes it quicker and easier for tenants who have been unfairly charged to get their money back by implementing a clear timeframe in which landlords and letting agents must return any unlawful charges.
These new measures will help reduce the costs that tenants can face at the outset, renewal and termination of a tenancy; a big issue for the large number of people who rent across North Swindon.
The Tenant Fees Act is the latest in the Government’s work to rebalance the relationship between tenants and landlords to deliver a fairer, better quality and more affordable private rental market.
Other measures to address this include:
- Introducing a range of powers for local authorities to enable them to crack down on the small minority of rogue landlords and agents who let unfit properties – including fixed financial penalties of up to £30,000 and banning orders – possibly for life – for the most serious offenders.
- Mandatory licensing for Houses in Multiple Occupation to improve living conditions of tenants in shared homes and tightened up rules on smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
- A national database of rogue landlords and agents to keep track of those that have been banned from letting
- A comprehensive review of the rating system used by local authorities to assess the presence of serious risks to the health and safety of tenants
- Mandatory client money protection – by which rental money held by letting agents is safeguarded against theft and fraud – for all agents
- An independent regulator to oversee letting agents, setting standards and maintaining minimum qualifications
- New, mandatory 5-yearly electrical installation safety inspections
- Considering the case for a specialist housing court to provide greater access to justice for landlords and tenants in property disputes.
Justin Tomlinson MP said: “High fees at the beginning and end of a tenancy can be a real barrier for people wishing to move in the private rental market. This new law will play a significant role in reducing these costs and make it easier for tenants to manage the upfront costs of moving. Improving the affordability of the private rental market is a priority for the Government, and I am pleased at the work already being done to address this issue.”