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Tenants one step closer to letting agent fees ban

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Written by: Paloma Kubiak
01/11/2017
The government has introduced a draft bill to push ahead with a ban on letting agent fees to make renting fairer for millions of tenants.

The Draft Tenant Fees Bill has been introduced to Parliament today, designed to help millions of renters avoid costly upfront fees.

It comes as evidence shows the fees charged are often not clearly or consistently explained, leaving many unaware of the exact cost of renting a property.

The government is also to consult on making membership of client money protection schemes mandatory for letting and managing agents. This will ensure greater protection for both landlords and tenants, allowing them to be compensated if all or part of their money is not repaid.

The government proposes to cap holding deposits at no more than one week’s rent and security deposits at no more than six week’s rent. The draft bill will also set out rules on the requirements of landlords and agents to return a tenant’s deposit.

Anyone caught breaching the ban on letting agent fees will be subject to a £5,000 fine for an initial breach, treated as a civil offence. It will then become a criminal offence where a person has been fined or convicted for a repeat offence within five years. This carries a maximum £30,000 penalty as an alternative to prosecution.

Communities secretary Sajid Javid, said: “This government is determined to make sure the housing market works for everyone. Tenants should no longer be hit by surprise fees they may struggle to afford and should only be required to pay their rent alongside a refundable deposit.

“We’re delivering on our promise to ban letting agent fees, alongside other measures to make renting fairer and increase protection for renters.”

All the proposals set out in Parliament today relate to England only and are subject to Parliamentary scrutiny before it is introduced as law. The consultation will run for six weeks from today.

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