October sees the Second Reading of the Tenant Fees Bill in The House of Lords. There will be a debate in Parliament, with the Government minister introducing the measure and further contributions from Lords.
During last month’s reading, MP's rejected an amendment for fees to be capped at £300 and they voted down another proposal for potential maximum fines to be increased from £5,000 to £30,000.
The Bill is expected to be made law by the early part of next year as there seems to be no significant opposition.
In brief, the Bill would ban letting fees and most other fees payable by tenants who are looking to rent a property. The refundable security deposit payable by tenants would be capped to the value of six week’s rent and any holding deposit due to be paid, would also be capped but to the value of one week’s rent.
Penalties would be enforced on any letting agents or landlords who are in breach of the bill and trading standards authorities would have a duty to put into effect these measures. This includes district councils to do so as well.
The first breach would include a fine of £5,000, which would typically be viewed as a civil offence. A further breach within five years would be subject to an unlimited fine and banning order offence under the Housing and Planning Act 2016 and viewed as a criminal offence.
Ministers have stated the Government will provide £500,000 in additional funding during the first year after the provisions come into force to support enforcement activities, in recognition of the additional costs they will generate. They expect the regime to be self-financing over the long-term.