Tenant Fees Bill

Part of Gaza: Un Human Rights Council Vote – in the House of Commons at 7:45 pm on 21st May 2018.

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Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government 7:45 pm, 21st May 2018

If the hon. Lady looks at the impact assessment, she will see that it has been calculated as a straight transfer through. I know that there will be a lot to discuss in Committee. It covers that pass through—the costs do not represent increased expenditure by letting agents and landlords, but the value of time spent reading guidance and reconsidering business models is also reflected in the net present value in the impact assessment. The hon. Lady will no doubt want to scrutinise this in further detail as the Bill proceeds through Committee.

The costs include unfair letting fees, with tenants facing bills for hundreds of pounds for simple things, such as reference checks, which on the market are often free, or £30 at most. Our consultation has found that tenants have to pay an average of £137 for a reference check. Then they are hit by fees for drawing up a tenancy agreement, for inventory checks and even for just picking up keys for their property. This, I should underline, is all alongside their deposit and the first month’s rent up front. That is just at the start. There are fees on renewal, and fees when they leave the property. Often people are not just paying the fees once; they are put through the same process every single time they have to move home. These are often young people who would rather put that money towards a home of their own, but they have no control over that. Tenants have no power to negotiate, as agents are appointed by landlords. Some use tenant fees to compensate for artificially low rates for landlords. This is simply not fair and we must now move to protect consumers.