Renters’ Rights Bill
This new Bill has been introduced by Baroness Grender and it is at the committee stage in the House of Lords. The aim of the Bill is to make provision about the rights of tenants. As a Lords Bill introduced privately it is unlikely that this Bill will proceed much further but it will create debate.
On 6th June we blogged about the Housing and Planning Act 2016 and specifically ‘Banning Orders’ . Under the Act, agents and rogue landlords can be banned from engaging in letting agency or property management work or letting houses. The Act does not state what offences could lead to a ban however, the Government has promised an autumn consultation on this, with draft regulations published in early 2017 and the measures coming in to force in October 2017. The order will state the length of the ban but will last at least 12 months. A person in breach of the ban will be liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a period of less than 51 weeks and or a fine. Any such fine will not exceed £30,000 and the banned person will not be permitted to hold a HMO license. Further measures designed to tackle rogue landlords and property agents are the ‘database of rogue landlords and property agents’ and rent repayment orders.
The Renters’ Rights Bill makes provision for tenants to obtain access to the above mentioned rogue landlords’ database and to prevent such landlords from obtaining a HMO license. Parliament was pressed to do both of these things during the passage of the Housing and Planning Act and refused to do so, and so it seems unlikely that these elements of the Bill will gain support.
The Bill then also proposes making electrical safety checks mandatory for properties let by private landlords. With a further provision that such checks should be undertaken every 5 years. But again this has been addressed in the Housing and Planning Act 2016.
Finally, and most controversially for many of our readers, we suspect, the Bill proposes the ending of certain lettings fees for tenants. Specially the Bill proposes to end the following fees:
a) a registration fee,
b) an administration fee,
c) an inventory check fee,
d) a reference check fee
e) a tenancy extension or renewal fee, or
f) an exit fee.
With the passing of the Housing and Planning Act 2016, banning orders and electrical safety provisions will no doubt be addressed in any event in the future. However, the provisions related to the ending of the lettings fees for tenants will need to be considered further. It is inevitable that if agents are forced to limit or cut fees to tenants they will look to landlords for this money. With landlords feeling the pinch from increased taxation it is not clear whether they will be prepared to pay.