Landlords or agents who overcharge tenants without providing evidence of costs are to be held to account in a new provision put forward under the Tenant Fees Bill.
The Tenant Fees Bill reached its third reading stage in the House of Commons this week, which saw MPs proposing a series of amendments including a default fee provision preventing landlords from charging “unfair” costs to tenants for minor damages.
According to the government, the crackdown will mean that landlords and agents who charge tenants for repairing or replacing items in their properties will need to provide evidence of the true cost to avoid tenants being overcharged.
Unfair charges from some landlords
Speaking at the consultation, Minister Rishi Sunak MP said the move will put an end to the minority of landlords who make tenants pay inflated prices when they cause damage to a property or when something needs replacing. The example used was of tenants who had been charged £60 to replace smoke alarms, when the local council would have done this for free.
Minister Rishi Sunak MP said: “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.”
Opposition to the Bill
However, rather than make renting fairer, the Tenant Fees Bill has come under criticism from some industry bodies such as ARLA Propertymark, who fear that banning fees from landlords and agents could just push rents up, which makes the whole process less transparent.
David Cox, chief executive at ARLA Propertymark, said: “We’re disappointed but unsurprised the Tenant Fees Bill has passed the House of Commons. Over the summer, we worked with Daniel Kawczynski MP on his amendment to allow agents to charge up to £300.
“Although the amendment was unsuccessful, this shows that members involved in ARLA Propertymark’s campaign have helped MPs understand the unintended consequences of the tenant fee ban; with some MPs listening to the legitimate concerns of the industry. As the Bill moves into the House of Lords we will continue working to ensure Parliamentarians understand the impact the ban will have on the whole private rented sector.”