The Government announced on 5th September further protections for tenants against what they refer to as ‘unfair’ letting fees.
The Bill placed before the House of Lords can be viewed here. However, we understand that this Bill will now be amended to include further protections as summarised below.
The Government press release states as follows:
- Tenants will no longer be forced to pay excessive fees for minor damages.
- The Government appears to intend to introduce what they refer to as a new ‘default fee provision.’ Under this provision a landlord or agent will only be able to recover reasonable incurred costs for which they can provide clear evidence. The hope is that this provision will put a stop to tenants being charged hundreds of pounds for a damaged item that actually cost a few pounds to replace.
- Steps will be taken to ensure tenants get their money back quickly by reducing the timeframe that landlords and agents must pay back any fees that they have unlawfully charged in breach of S.1 and 2 of the tenant fees Bill.
Minister Rishi Sunak MP is quoted as saying:
“Tenants across the country, whatever their income, should not be hit with unfair costs by agents or landlords.
This government is determined to make sure our housing market works and this new provision in the Tenant Fees Bill will make renting fairer and more transparent for all.”
All deposits taken for an assured shorthold tenancy should be registered with a Deposit Scheme. These schemes have procedures and processes in place to address any landlord deductions from deposits which usually include providing evidence that the deductions have been reasonably incurred and that the tenant is under a duty to pay for them. So whether all these new provisions are necessary is doubtful and does seem to be an example of the aged old problem of legislating for the sake of legislating without considering what powers already exist!