Citizens Advice has attacked the default fees allowed within the government Tenant Fees Bill because it will create a loophole that unscrupulous agents could exploit.
The independent advice organisation, which is a network of 316 charities around the UK which also campaigns on consumer issues, says agents will be able to charge without limit for tenancy breaches such as late rent or lost keys and that this will enable them to carry on charging unrestricted fees.
Citizens Advice is also unhappy at how long the legislation is taking to enact, highlighting how it believes £13 million a month is being taken in “uncompetitive fees” from tenants by agents.
Default fees were debated last night in the Commons during the second reading of the Tenant Fees Bill, but Citizens Advice says the ‘guidance’ that the government promised to issue later on in the legislative process “would not be legally enforceable”.
Instead it wants to government to include what can and cannot be charged for various services to tenants, and has called for deposits to be capped at four weeks’ rent, not six.
“The government’s pledge to ban fees will be fundamentally undermined unless the clause on default fees is significantly tightened,” says Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice (pictured).
“The loophole leaves tenants vulnerable to rogue landlords and agents looking to continue charging unfair fees.
“The government must tighten this clause and issue a clearer definition of what a default fee is. Leaving this just to guidance risks poor outcomes for both renters and landlords.”