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New rules will stop landlords overcharging tenants for minor damage

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06/09/2018
An amendment to the Tenant Fees Bill means that landlords must provide proof of the costs of replacing damaged items in a rental property
New rules will stop landlords overcharging tenants for minor damage

The Tenant Fees Bill, which aims to end costly fees imposed by landlords and letting agents, passed its third reading in the House of Commons this week, meaning the new rules are a step closer to becoming law.

Plus a new amendment has been added that the Government said provides further protections for tenants against unfair letting fees .

Reasonable costs

Under the new default fee provision, a landlord or agent will only be able to recover reasonable incurred costs, and must provide evidence of these costs to the tenant before they can impose any charges.

This will put a stop, for example, to tenants being charged hundreds of pounds for a damaged item that actually only costs a few pounds to replace – such as £60 to replace smoke alarms which the local council would have replaced for free.

Minister Rishi Sunak MP said: “Tenants across the country, whatever their income, should not be hit with unfair costs by agents or landlords.

“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.”

The National Landlords Association said the amendment is a ‘welcome addition that will make these payments clearer for both landlords and tenants’.

But the organisation added that ‘landlords do not routinely take advantage of default payments and this has the potential to disadvantage small landlords who self-manage their properties. It is unlikely that these landlords would be able to charge for their time in rectifying any defaults as ‘incurred costs’, as it may not be easy to provide the necessary evidence’.

Other amendments to the Bill include steps to ensure tenants get their money back quickly by reducing the timeframe that landlords and agents must pay back any fees that they have unlawfully charged.

The Bill is expected to save tenants around £240 million a year, also giving them assurance that the deposit they pay at the start of the tenancy cannot exceed 6 weeks’ rent.

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