Posts with tag: Renters’ Rights Bill

Renters’ Rights Bill continues progress through Lords

Published On: November 21, 2016 at 10:49 am

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The Renters’ Rights Bill made more progress in the House of Lords last Friday. The Bill, which proposes changes to the charges letting agents are able to levy on tenants, now goes on to the Report Stage at a later date.

Amendments

During last week’s committee stage, proposer of the Bill, Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Grender, made amendments to her legislation.

Grender decided to make these changes as she felt the terminology used in the original document, ‘would leave too many options for newly named fees to be charged.’[1]

As opposed to specifying named fees to be banned, the amended Renters’ Right’s Bill now, ‘Bans all fees to the tenant from the letting agency and specifies that charging a fee to a tenant would be an offence.’[1]

There does however remain a sub-section in the proposal allowing the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to make an exemption. This is so that should evidence emerge of services in respect of which there is value to the tenant in charging fees, it could be done.

Best interests

Grender informed peers that she, ‘does not anticipate any such fees but my new amendment allows for the possibility, if concrete evidence was indeed found that a fee for specific service would be in the best interest of the tenant in some way.’[1]

Despite general support, not everyone present agreed with all elements of the Bill.

Renters' Rights Bill continues progress through Lords

Renters’ Rights Bill continues progress through Lords

Baroness Gardner of Parkes observed: ‘If the noble Baroness, Lady Grender, believes that people will simply reduce their rents, it is unrealistic. When she talks about how much rents have gone up, that is nothing compared to how much property has gone up.’[1]

Addressing other measures of the Bill, such as the mandatory registration of landlords and limits on deposits, Gardner said: ‘“I thoroughly approve of the idea that you should have access to a register of rogue landlords and all that, but it is unrealistic to imagine that this list of things which the noble Baroness has set out in detail will suddenly become inexpensive or vanish.’[1]

Responding, Grender noted: ‘There are good lettings agents out there who are members of government-accredited redress schemes and pursue best practice. They should continue to charge a fee for the work that they do but the fee should be from the landlord, who can shop around and choose which lettings agency to use. Landlords can decide to use the decent, regulated ones.’[1]

[1] https://www.lettingagenttoday.co.uk/breaking-news/2016/11/renters-rights-bill–anti-fees-measure-continues-through-lords

 

Renters’ Rights Bill to be debated tomorrow

Published On: November 17, 2016 at 10:59 am

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Fees able to be charged by letting agents will be discussed tomorrow in the House of Lords, as the Renters’ Rights Bill takes stage in the upper house.

The proposal was put forwards as a Private Members Bill by Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Grender, but is unlikely to become law outright. However, Private Members’ Bills have a record of highlighting features that are later put into legislation.

Scrapping of fees

Grender’s measure outlines the scrapping of agents’ fees for tenants. It calls for an amendment to the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, to stop agents in England by charging both existing tenants or prospective tenants.

She calls for no charges to tenants for registering, administration, inventories or reference checks, alongside free renewal or exit fees.

In addition, Baroness Grender has called for the mandatory registration of landlords and caps of the size of deposits. What’s more, the proposals request an automatic ban for any agent or landlord named on a ‘rogue operator’ database from being given a HMO licence.

Renters' Rights Bill to be debated tomorrow

Renters’ Rights Bill to be debated tomorrow

Support

Last time the measure was debated in the House of Lords, it received substantial all-party backing. At this debate in June, Baroness Grender told the Lords that consumer protection for private sector tenants was less developed than in other commercial activities.

Grender observed that renters are, ‘often at the mercy of landlords and lettings agents.’[1]

‘It’s time for the Government intervention to address this imbalance of power and build up the consumer rights of renters….Letting agents should not be able to get away with double charging fees, imposing them on both tenants and landlords, when in fact it is only the landlord that is the client,’ she added.[1]

[1] https://www.lettingagenttoday.co.uk/breaking-news/2016/11/letting-agents-fees-to-be-discussed-in-house-of-lords-tomorrow

 

Over half of landlords unaware tenant fees could be scrapped

Published On: August 23, 2016 at 8:46 am

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Categories: Landlord News,Tenant Fees Ban

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A new report has revealed that many buy-to-let landlords in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are unaware that the Government is considering scrapping tenant fees charged by letting agents.

Landlords will be well aware of fees tenants are permitted to pay when signing a contract with an agent. Tenants could face charges of between £50 and £500 to either check-in or check-out.

In Scotland, these fees have already been abolished.

Unaware

Research from Upad shows that 54% of landlords are not aware of the Government’s plans to abolish fees. Baroness Grenader proposed the changes to the Renters’ Rights Bill, including scrapping fees charged by agents and sometimes by landlords.

It comes as little surprise to learn that many tenants are backing the potential alterations. In fact, the study from Upad indicates that a number of landlords that are aware of the changes are feeling relaxed.

However, the online letting agent feels that the Government has got its priorities wrong by proposing to abolish fees.

Over half of landlords unaware tenant fees could be scrapped

Over half of landlords unaware tenant fees could be scrapped

Choices

Upad points out that previously, when tenants were asked if they had a choice between capping rents or capping fees, 60% said that they would prefer rent caps.

A statement from Upad said that, ‘maybe the Government should focus more of its efforts on increasing supply rather than the removal of tenant’s fees, as this would reduce the rent prices nationally and save tenants more money in the long run.’[1]

[1] https://www.landlordtoday.co.uk/breaking-news/2016/8/more-than-half-of-landlords-unaware-that-tenant-fees-may-be-scrapped

 

 

Calls for Government to rethink Renters Rights Bill

Published On: June 29, 2016 at 11:50 am

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The Association of Independent Inventory Clerks has called on the Government to continue to let letting agents charge tenants for inventory checks.

According to the industry body, these fees will then be transferred to landlords, who will in turn incorporate them into tenants’ rents.

Inventory fees

Just this month, the Renters’ Rights Bill was given an unopposed second reading in the House of Lords. The Bill includes measures to ban letting agents from charging tenants registration, admin, reference check, renewal and exit fees.

Given the unopposed reading, the Bill is thought to have a very strong chance of success. It is running alongside a petition challenging agent fees being charged to tenants, which has more than 250,000 signatures.

Patricia Barber, Chair of the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks, said, ‘here at the AIIC, we’re strongly opposed to the banning of inventory fees charged to tenants by letting agents. We envisage that if banned these charges would continue to be charged to tenants through the unspecified and unclear means of a higher rent.’[1]

Calls for Government to rethink Renters Rights Bill

Calls for Government to rethink Renters Rights Bill

Concerns

Barber is concerned that being unable to charge tenants a fee could encourage some agents bypass inventories completely.

She notes that, ‘a detailed inventory helps landlords, agents and tenants to determine exactly how the property’s condition has changed over the course of the tenancy, what can be deemed fair wear and tear and what needs to be replaced and therefore deducted from the tenant’s deposit.’[1]

‘We totally understand that some fees charged to tenants are too high and complicated, but we believe that if fair and worthwhile feels like inventory checks are made clear to the tenant then there should be no problem in them being charged,’ Barber continued.[1]

Concluding, Barber acknowledges that, ‘the vast majority of letting agents are transparent in the fees they charge to tenants. Banning fees altogether and particularly inventory check fees is certainly not the answer and could contribute to more deposit disputes and property damage further down the line.’[1]

It must be noted that the Renters Rights Bill remains a long way from becoming law. There is still the House of Commons to negotiate, before receiving Royal Assent.

[1] http://www.propertyreporter.co.uk/landlords/government-urged-to-re-evaluate-renters-rights-bill.html

Bill to Abolish Letting Agent Fees Unopposed in House of Lords

Published On: June 15, 2016 at 10:10 am

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Categories: Property News,Tenant Fees Ban

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A new bill that seeks to abolish letting agent fees charged to tenants had an unopposed second reading in the House of Lords on Friday.

The Renters’ Rights Bill, supported by Labour and introduced by a Liberal Democrat peer, would amend the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 by stopping letting agents charging tenants or prospective tenants the following fees for: registration, admin, inventories, reference checks, renewals or exits.

The new bill also proposes an amendment to the new Housing and Planning Act 2016, by opening up the register of rogue landlords and letting agents to tenants and prospective renters.

The register, which is not yet in operation, is currently only intended to be available to local authorities and the Government.

The new bill also proposes that any landlord or agent on the rogue database would not be granted a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) license.

The private member’s bill would apply in England only and has been introduced by Baroness Grender, a former director of communications for housing charity Shelter. Labour has offered its full support.

Bill to Abolish Letting Agent Fees Unopposed in House of Lords

Bill to Abolish Letting Agent Fees Unopposed in House of Lords

While the bill would normally be considered unlikely to become law without Government backing, a petition to the Housing Minister, Brandon Lewis, to ban letting agent fees, has now achieved over 250,000 signatures.

Grender claims that private tenants are being failed by a housing market that is stacked against them.

She said: “Unlike purchasers of high street goods or services who are generally covered by well-developed consumer rights, consumers of private sector housing lack the protections they need. They are often at the mercy of landlords and lettings agents, and have little recourse to take action in the case of poor quality or rip-off housing.

“A case in point is letting fees that agents charge tenants: Registration fees, credit check fees, reference check fees, renewal fees, name change fees, admin fees, exit fees… the list goes on. Almost all of them are arbitrary and disproportionate to the service provided.”

However, she added: “Yet tenants are powerless to do much about it, in a market where demand for homes relentlessly grows and options are limited. It is time for Government intervention to address this imbalance of power and build up the consumer rights of renters.

“Letting agents should not be able to get away with double charging fees – imposing them on both tenants and landlords – when in fact it is only the landlord that is the client, and therefore the one that should be paying.

“Tenants are charged fees because agents know they can get away with it. These fees are already banned in many countries, including Scotland and the US, because the pro-consumer case for doing so is clear.”1

The Government spokesperson, Viscount Younger of Leckie, responded: “The Government is clear that the vast majority of letting agents do provide a good service to tenants and landlords, and that most fees charged do reflect genuine business costs.

“I note [Lady Grender] did acknowledge this briefly in her comments. I do not believe a blanket ban on letting agent fees is the answer to tackling the small minority of rogue letting agents who exploit their customers by imposing inflated fees for their service.”

He pointed out existing laws prohibiting landlords and letting agents from “unfair terms or fees”1, adding that letting agents must publicise their fees.

1 http://www.theyworkforyou.com/lords/?id=2016-06-10a.972.0

Generation Rent Calls for House of Lords to Support Ban on Letting Agent Fees

Published On: June 10, 2016 at 9:03 am

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Categories: Finance News,Tenant Fees Ban

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Tenant lobby group Generation Rent has called for the House of Lords to support a ban on letting agent fees charged to tenants when the issue is debated today.

The Renters’ Rights Bill, introduced by Baroness Grender, is due to have its second reading debate in the House of Lords today, Friday 10th June 2016.

Generation Rent Calls for House of Lords to Support Ban on Letting Agent Fees

Generation Rent Calls for House of Lords to Support Ban on Letting Agent Fees

Generation Rent will be joining tenants outside Parliament at 11am today to demonstrate support for the bill, alongside Vicky Spratt of The Debrief, whose Make Renting Fair campaign has attracted over 250,000 signatures on a petition to ban fees.

Vicky will be broadcasting live on Facebook from College Green outside Parliament at 11am. She will be online for 30-45 minutes at: https://www.facebook.com/thedebrief/

The Facebook live stream will include Vicky interviewing Baroness Grender about why she believes letting agent fees should be banned.

There will also be a discussion with Betsy Dillner, the Director of Generation Rent, about the campaign and why she thinks action should be taken as soon as possible.

Vicky also hopes to speak to other parliamentarians during the live stream.

The Renters’ Rights Bill would end letting agent fees for tenants and would enable tenants to access information about rogue landlords, as well as tighten the law on electrical safety checks in rental properties. It is expected to be debated in the House of Lords after 12.30pm today.

Follow the campaign on Twitter with #makerentingfair.

Dillner explains the need for the ban: “With a captive market of desperate renters, there’s nothing stopping letting agents from charging grossly inflated fees at the start, middle and end of tenancies. If landlords had to pay all the fees instead, agents would have to start lowering their prices and tenants would find it easier to move, leading to a much more efficient rental market.”

Spratt continues: “We are currently in the midst of a housing crisis. Frankly, I’m surprised it’s not yet being called a housing disaster. We simply don’t have enough homes, and a buy-to-let boom has trapped more people than ever in the private rental market. Young people, in particular, face the prospect of renting long into their adult lives.

“It’s high time that legislation changed and that renting began to work for the people who have no choice but to live in rented accommodation. This is a common sense issue. Letting fees have been banned in Scotland since 2012 and the market works. We need to do the same in England.”