The tenancy fees bill was released on the 1st of November 2017. It focuses on some of the excesses of landlords and letting agents as part of the government’s initiative to ensure transparency in the market by discouraging landlords and agents from charging exorbitant and unnecessary fees to the tenants. However, the bill is not intended to apply to all of the UK; only England. Also, the bill centres on assured shorthold tenancies so that it substitutes for “tenancy” as far as the bill is concerned. It covers other licences to occupy a house, excluding holiday lets. That was clarified in order to avoid any use of the bills provision to avoid complying to it. Generally the only fees allowed under the bill include rent, late payment fees, fees incurred for the replacement of tenant‘s lost keys, or fees for any damages caused by the tenant during their tenancy. Now, the provisions of the bill include:
- Landlords and letting agents are not allowed to request that tenants pay fees for the renewal of tenancy, as condition for grants or for the securing of references.
- The landlord must refund the deposit held within 10 days after the completion of the tenancy agreement. This is the money paid to the landlord by the tenant to keep a property for them till they were able to come and rent it. It is 15 days if the tenancy agreement is not completed. Schedule 2 of the bill covers deposit holds. However, the bill states that if it turns out that said tenant does not have any right to rent a property according to law, usually owing to immigration status, the landlord can retain the deposit provided they were not aware of the tenants legal status as at the time of collecting the deposit. Also, if the tenant provides false information, especially when it is found out that this makes them not suitable for the property. Another could be that the tenant fails to follow all the steps that would lead to the signing of the tenancy agreement.
- The bill also amends the consumer rights act of 2015, thereby ensuring that any letting agent who advertises on the website of third parties must publish details of all relevant fees, client money and any redress scheme which they are a member of.