Brighter future for tenants thanks to new Draft Tenant Fees Bill

February 11, 2018

The Waltham Estates blog is about informing people of developments in the real estate world, and the subject of this article is certainly a noteworthy development.

For years now, tenants, be them potential or existing, have been paying fees which they simply shouldn’t be paying. They have been paying these fees because they are worried – worried about not getting their dream place, or worried about possibly not being allowed to stay in their existing property.

This is a situation which the government has been keen to address, and the recently-published Draft Tenant Fees Bill is certainly a step in the right direction.    

So, what should tenants be paying?

It’s no secret that tenants have to pay landlords and agencies some money. But there are legitimate payment requests, and then there are illegitimate requests.

Rent? LEGITIMATE. Refundable government-secured deposit? COMPLETELY NORMAL. Charges for losing keys or making late rental payments? BY THE BOOK.

Rental processes will, however, sometimes be fraught with danger, and that’s where the government’s newly-proposed Bill comes in.

What will this Bill help to wipe out?

Deposits have been a subject of much debate over the years. Landlords, or agencies acting on their behalf, have been known to either charge excessive holding deposits or refuse to refund deposits without sufficient grounds. With regard to the holding deposit, this should be no more than 1 week’s rent, and should be refunded within 15 days of being received, unless an agreement is reached to deduct the holding deposit from the first month’s rent.

The unethical retention of deposits is something which questionable agencies and landlords have often tried, and gotten away with, in the past. This is simply because there have been no strict regulations in place. The aim of the Draft Tenant Fees Bill, which would amend the Consumer Rights Act 2005, is to bring in fines of up to £30,000 for those guilty of withholding deposits or charging any illegal fees for the granting, renewal or continuation of a rental agreement.

The bill will also help tenants to avoid surprise fees by requiring letting agents to publish details of any relevant fees to be applied to tenants. These details must be clearly displayed in the agency itself, as well as on the agency’s website and on any third-party sites used, such as Zoopla or Rightmove.

Our view?

The Waltham Estates way has always been grounded in complete fairness and a desire to provide our tenants and landlords with the best possible service. Given this ethos, we are thrilled to see that new and stricter regulations are being proposed that will make rental bodies think twice before acting unethically. We are also very pleased that these regulations will apply to rental agreements which are already in place, even if they have been agreed before the new Bill comes into play. At Waltham estates, we are clear with our tenants, and ensure that we rigorously outline all fees that will be charged, as well as the conditions attached to each of these fees.

Should everything go well, the Tenant Fees Bill should be in action within two years.


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