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Greater protections announced for tenants against ‘excessive’ costs

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

Landlords and letting agents will only be able to recover “reasonable incurred costs” from tenant deposits, under new government plans.

Renters must be provided with evidence of costs before charges are imposed, as part of amendments to the Tenant Fees Bill.

It means tenants will no longer be forced to pay “excessive” costs for minor damages.

For example, landlords or agents will not be able to charge hundreds of pounds for damaged items that only cost a few pounds to replace.

Other changes to the bill include steps to make sure tenants get their money back quickly by reducing the timeframe that landlords and agents must pay back fees that have been unlawfully charged.

Under the new law, letting agent fees will be banned and deposits at the start of the tenancy will be capped at six weeks’ rent.

The bill is set to save tenants around £240m a year, the government said.

Rishi Sunak MP said: “Tenants across the country, whatever their income, should not be hit with unfair costs by agents or landlords.

“This government is determined to make sure our housing market works and this new provision in the Tenant Fees Bill will make renting fairer and more transparent for all.”

Longer tenancies called into question?

According to a report in The Sun, the government is allegedly looking to scrap plans to introduce longer tenancies, helping to give renters more security.

In July, Housing Secretary James Brokenshire said the government was consulting on a new longer tenancy model of a minimum three years, with a six-month break clause to allow tenants and landlords to exit the agreement early if needed. But the newspaper reported a senior government source said Hammond and May are both “losing their bottle on three year tenancies”.

The source told The Sun: “It’s a proper election winner but they’re going to blow it.”

In response, a Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesperson, said: “Everyone deserves a decent and secure place to live, and we are committed to protecting the rights of those living in rented homes.

“We have consulted on options for making longer-term tenancies the norm, including seeking views on three-year tenancies, which tenants could end with two months’ notice.

“Ministers are now considering responses ahead of announcing next steps.”