Law News,Tenant Fees Ban

The Tenant Fees Bill has Completed its Passage through the Commons

Rose Jinks - January 24, 2019

The Tenant Fees Bill has now completed its passage through the House of Commons, after it was approved in the House of Lords last week.

Provided the Bill receives royal assent in the coming weeks, it will become law in England from 1st June 2019.

MPs discussed Lords amendments to the Bill in Parliament yesterday (23rd January 2019).

The Bill aims to:

  • make renting fairer and more affordable for tenants by reducing costs at the outset of a tenancy
  • improve transparency and competition in the private rental sector
  • ban lettings fees paid by tenants in England
  • improve fairness, competition and affordability in the lettings sector

The Shadow Housing Minister, Melanie Onn MP, believes that the measures in the Bill are “on the whole” positive for private tenants.

On her amendment that reduces the security deposit cap to “three weeks’ rent for all”, Onn told the Commons: “This Bill doesn’t reach its full potential in protecting tenants from unscrupulous landlords who want to charge unfair fees”, even with the Government having proposed a reduction of the cap from six to five weeks’ rent.

Conservative MP Bob Blackman explains that he was chairing the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee during pre-legislative scrutiny of the Bill, adding that he is “absolutely delighted” that the Government has endorsed all of its recommendations.

This includes the reduction from six to five weeks’ on the deposit cap, which “strikes a balance” between tenants’ and landlords’ interests.

No one on the Committee promoted less than four weeks, he stated, despite the Shadow Housing Minister pushing for this.

He believes that tenants would end up “far worse off” as a result of this change, as landlords would be likely to inflate rents to make up the difference.

SNP MP Angela Crawley welcomes the Tenant Fees Bill, despite it not applying to Scotland.

She noted that the Scottish Government abolished tenant fees in 2011 and has seen “the positive effects of this”.

The Tenant Fees Bill has Completed its Passage through the Commons

Crawley added that holding deposits are now also illegal in Scotland, calling for this to be rolled out to the rest of the UK.

The Government’s decision to accept a Lords amendment calling for the deposit cap to be reduced to five weeks’ rent is “very welcome”, she insisted, concluding that the Bill will be “a great help” to those within the private rental sector.

Kevin Hollinrake, a Conservative MP, declared his interest as a landlord and former estate agent, saying that he has concerns about the reduction of deposit lengths to five weeks’ rent, as, if it doesn’t work for landlords, they will “exit the market”, which will make life more difficult for tenants in the long-run.

At the moment, there is flexibility, he said, so it’s really important that this change is made under review.

The Lords “meant well” in some of their amendments, he added, but might have unintended consequences.

David Cox, the Chief Executive of ARLA Propertymark (the Association of Residential Letting Agents), comments on the completion: “The tenant fees ban is now an inevitability, and agents need to start preparing for a post-tenant fees world. Following its passage in the House of Lords last week, this afternoon, the Tenant Fees Bill passed its final hurdle in the House of Commons. The Bill will now receive royal assent in the coming few weeks, before being passed into law and implemented on 1st June 2019.”

You can stay up to date with all developments to the Bill on our dedicated page: https://www.landlordnews.co.uk/category/tenant-fees-ban/