The UK Government is continuing its work on overhauling the UK’s ’broken housing market’. Part of its plans focus on the private rental sector. And, under plans outlined in the draft Tenant Fee Ban Bill, all letting fees will be banned.
The draft bill, published early in November details the reason behind the bill. It also makes it clear the Government intends to ensure tenants are only charged for rent.
Draft Tenant Fee Ban bill details
In the introduction of the Bill, communities Secretary Sajid Javid explains it is about protecting tenants.
“Tenants should no longer be hit by surprise fees they may struggle to afford and should only be required to pay their rent alongside a refundable deposit,” Javid said. “We’re delivering on our promise to ban letting agent fees, alongside other measures to make renting fairer and increase protection for renters.”
Essentially, once the Bill passes into law, the only thing a tenant will pay for is rent. However, the draft Bill also details the tenancy deposit can be of up to six weeks. That’s an increase from the Queen’s speech, which stated a four week deposit. It’s also a welcome change to the lettings industry.
The Tenant Fee Ban Bill also states lettings agents can request a one week’s holding deposit. But, it is repayable in almost all circumstances in which a tenant can no longer take up the tenancy.
Fines and punishments
Any lettings agent or landlord found charging fees to tenants, will face a fine of up to £5,000. And, if that same agent then goes on to charge other tenant fees, within five years of their initial offence, the fine can rise to £30,000. In addition, there may also be criminal charges to answer.
This is a clear indication of the Government’s intentions. They’re deadly serious in removing the financial strain of the private rental sector from tenants and onto agents and landlords.
As with all Bills and laws, there are caveats and situations where the main rule, doesn’t quite apply.
With the Tenant Fee Ban Bill, the main caveat is with regards to tenant default fees. If a tenant loses their keys and the letting agent or landlord must replace them, they are able to charge the tenant for them. Or, if the tenant pays their rent late, the lettings agent can charge a late payment fee.
But that’s pretty much it. The Bill also states tenants will no longer face third-party service charges.
The draft Bill will also ensure the clear display of any fees that are the agreement.
The Bill is still in draft form. It will still face debates through Parliament and some amendments are likely. Its estimated the Bill could pass into law in around 12 months-time.
With that in mind, it’s worth making a start on how to handle the change. That includes working out if and how lettings agents can potentially recoup the losses made on the current range of fees for different services.
If you have doubts regarding the “Draft Tenant Fees Bill” get in touch with Incrent.
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