The Bill is currently before the House of Lords and during this process the government has made a number of substantial amendments. It is possible that further amendments will be proposed and at this stage agents and landlords should expect them.
The Bill proposes to ban landlords and their lettings agents from requiring private tenant’s in England making payments (with a few exceptions) in connection with a tenancy. Our previous post on the Bill can be read here.
The current amendments include:
The deposit was limited to 6 weeks worth of rent. However, this has now been amended to 5 weeks where the annual rent of the tenancy is under £50,000. Where the rent is above £50,000 the cap will remain 6 weeks.
Landlords and agents will no longer be entitled to a holding deposit where an earlier holding deposit has already been paid for the property and not returned.
Landlords and agents will be entitled to charge tenants default fees only where it is clearly stated in the tenancy agreement. Further such default fees will only be recoverable where they reflect the reasonable and proportionate value of the loss suffered. Where the amount sought is not reasonable or proportionate the amount of the excess will be a prohibited payment.
Baroness Grender has specifically stated that landlords and agents should be entitled to recover for:
– the loss of a key or other security device giving access to the property; and
– a failure to make a rent payment within 14 days of it falling due.
The previous version of the Bill did not specify what a default fee could be charge for but, it now seems that keys and late rent are to be the only acceptable options. Of course, landlords will still be entitled to pursue damages through their relevant tenancy deposit scheme as per the scheme’s terms and conditions.
These changes will be concerning to many landlords and agents. It is yet to be seen what effect this Bill will have on the market but it is likely to prove a radical shake-up for letting agents.