The government is to ban agents and landlords charging tenants for minor damage to properties and has added the measure to its Tenant Fees Bill going through parliament.
Due to become law next April, the legislation will only allow agents and landlords to recover ‘reasonable costs’ from tenants when they move out, evidence for which must be provided to them before charges can be imposed.
The government says this will put and end to the worst excesses of inflated charges demanded by some rogue agents, including tenants who are charged £60 for a new smoke alarm that is available for free locally from their council.
But the announcement is likely to create confusion within the industry. The government has not yet outlined what ‘reasonable’ costs means and such a vague definition will lead to arguments between tenants and their landlord or agent over it.
“Tenants across the country, whatever their income, should not be hit with unfair costs by agents or landlords,” says Minister Rishi Sunak.
“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.”
This is most significant addition to the Tenant Fees Bill since it began passing through parliament on the 2nd May this year, heralded by the government who said it would “stop letting agents exploiting their position as intermediaries between landlords and tenants”.
Other measures already included in the legislation include holding deposits capped at one week’s rent, change of tenancy charges restricted to £50 and fines of £5,000 for initial breaches of the legislation.