In the House of Commons on 5 September, Reading East MP Matt Rodda expressed concern that the government’s Tenant Fees Bill didn’t adequately protect tenants from unreasonable landlord fees. He voted for amendments suggested by the opposition Labour party, but these were defeated by the Government.
The Government says that their Tenant Fees Bill (which only applies to England) will:
- ban letting fees (except for deposits and ‘default’ fees),
- ensure the tenant’s deposit cannot exceed 6 weeks’ rent,
- stop letting agents from exploiting their position as intermediaries between landlords and tenant,
- prevent unfair practices such as double charging for the same services,
- cap the amount that can be charged for a change to tenancy at £50 (or costs),
- restrict the conditions in which a landlord or agent can charge ‘default’ fees.
In the parliamentary debate on 5 September, Matt Rodda MP supported Labour party amendments to the bill, which were defeated in a vote. He said:
In Reading East we have seen increasing numbers of young people and families entering the rental market, and it is in the vital interests of these residents and all my constituents that the rental market in our area is affordable, transparent and accessible.
However, as with many other constituencies, rising rents, large deposits and high letting fees are increasingly causing difficulties for those seeking to access rented accommodation.
I am concerned that [the bill] does not go far enough to protect tenants against default fees. These are the fees that are chargeable if a letting agent or landlord incurs costs due to a tenant’s actions, such as replacing a lost key or making a late payment. These fees are set at the discretion of the landlord or the agent, and have been described by agents themselves as a back door to reclaiming income lost through this bill.
I share the concern… that the lack of clarity regarding default fees creates a major loophole that could expose tenants to unreasonable fines from unscrupulous landlords or letting agents.
[The proposed] amendment… provides a clear definition of default fees and limits the amount that could be charged, while still allowing landlords and agents to charge for expenses where there is a clear cost. It would provide clarity for all parties and, crucially, it would provide tenants in my constituency and elsewhere with the protection from exploitation that they so desperately need.
The Tenant Fees Bill is currently going through the House of Lords.
- Matt Rodda at parliament.uk
- Matt Rodda on the Whitley Pump
- Matt Rodda at TheyWorkForYou
- Matt Rodda’s website
- Government action to end letting fees