Arthur reviews the Renters’ Rights Bill.
Liberal Democrat Baroness Grender’s Renters’ Rights Bill had an unopposed second reading in the House of Lords on June 10th. They key aim of the bill is to prevent additional costs surrounding moving properties being passed on to the tenants.
The Renters’ Rights Bill currently has a ‘running mate’ on change.org in the form of a 250,000 strong petition. Grender’s bill calls for measures to ban agencies from charging tenants inventory check fees. It also call for a ban on registration fees, administration fees, reference check fees, renewal fees and exit fees.
In her address to the House of Lords, Baroness Grender spoke about increasing costs to an ever increasing portion of society. She claimed this was made worse by an increase in AST’s, with one third of renters moving per year. Grender also spoke of the lack on consistency in charges as a problem. Some tenants pay as little as £40 whilst some pay up-to and over £780 in agency fees. As usual London is a separate case, with renters expecting to pay an average of £1500. The Renters’ Rights Bill would move England in line with Scotland, who banned agency fees being charged to tenants in 1984 and then renewed them in 2012.
The Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC) has been outspoken in it’s opposition to the Renters’ Rights Bill, which has received support from both Labour and Lib Dem peers. Patricia Barber, chair of the AIIC, had this to say:
“We totally understand that some fees charged to tenants are too high and complicated, but we believe that if fair and worthwhile fees like inventory checks are made clear to the tenant then there should be no problem in them being charged.”
Barber also explained the AIIC’s belief that if the Renters’ Rights Bill were to pass, landlords would simply factor in the additional costs into their tenants rent, decreasing transparency. More worryingly, Barber suggested landlords would be tempted to bypass inventory check completely, increasing the chance of severe and expensive costs in the long run.
Baroness Grender’s Renters’ Rights Bill is still a long way from achieving Royal Ascent, but it has already got some landlords and letting agencies worried. The bill could spur landlords to move away from letting agents and embrace the world of property technology to help let their portfolio.
As the Renters’ Rights Bill moves through parliament it is very likely that it will be watered down, especially as it moves into the committee stage. If the bill does pass, it would be very surprising if it was as severe as the current version.