A new draft bill introduced to Parliament this month will pave the way for a housing market that “works for everyone”, according to the Communities Secretary Sajid Javid.
The draft Tenant Fees Bill will ban letting agent fees for tenants, cap holding and security deposits, and create a new civil offence with a fine of £5,000 for those who breach the new rules.
Presenting the bill to Parliament, Mr Javid said: “This government is determined to make sure the housing market works for everyone. 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.
“We’re delivering on our promise to ban letting agent fees, alongside other measures to make renting fairer and increase protection for renters.”
The Government announced the ban on letting agent fees earlier this year, after research found that the level of fees charged are often not clearly or consistently explained – leaving many tenants unaware of the trust costs of renting a property.
More than nine out of 10 tenants who responded to a Government consultation earlier this year backed the ban on letting agent fees. A further seven out of 10 said the fees affected their ability to move into a new rented property.
The report adds that the move will “improve transparency, affordability, and competition” in the private rental market, as well as prevent letting agents “double charge” tenants and landlords.
The associated civil offence with a fine of £5,000 will apply to an initial breach of the ban on fees, after which a criminal offence will be charged for repeat offenders.
At the same time, the Government has issued a consultation into how making membership of client money protection schemes mandatory will affect the market. The Government is looking to safeguard landlord and tenant capital when it is held or being handled by an agent. A protection scheme ensures that parties are compensated should the money not be returned.
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