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Tenant Fees Bill is too loosely framed, claims Citizens Advice

As Bill begins second reading in Lords today, charity is urging to support tightening of 'default fees' clause, although landlords say it will push up rents.

Nigel Lewis

tenant fees

The ‘default fees’ clause within the Tenant Fees Bill being debated in parliament today should be tightened up to prevent unscrupulous landlords and letting agents taking advantage of the legal loophole it could create, Citizens Advice has claimed.

It recently surveyed 2,000 tenants and found that half had not read their rental contract before putting down a deposit and that a third were not told about additional fees until after handing over their cash.

The Bill, which is going through its second reading today in the House of Lords, includes a default fees clause that will enable agents and landlords to recoup costs and charge fees when tenants ‘default’ on a tenancy agreement.

Tenant fees

Citizens Advice wants peers to today support an amendment to the legislation that would tighten up the definition of when and how tenants can be charged such fees.

“As it stands, the default fee clause has the potential to fundamentally undermine the government’s aim to end tenant fees and prevent unfair practices,” the charity says.

“The possibility for default fees to be abused has been acknowledged by a wide range of bodies, including enforcement agencies and some letting agent bodies.”

Not at the National Landlords Association, though, whose Director of Policy and Practice Chris Norris says: “Removing the default fee clause would push landlords either to seek to recover their costs elsewhere – through higher rents – or to become increasingly discerning about the tenants that they will let to, reducing accessibility of the private rented sector for those who need homes.”

October 10, 2018

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