The Bill seeks to address the application of unfair fees by, in essence, banning all of them unless they are then reapplied back by the terms of the Bill itself. This is an important step to provide reassurance and to deal with the rogue practices that the hon. Gentleman highlights. In that context it is important to stress some of the other steps that have already been taken in relation to rogue landlords and the abuses in the sector that need to be tackled. This is a further measure to address them.
Turning to the key provisions of the Bill, which apply to assured shorthold tenancies, tenancies of student accommodation, and licences to occupy, these will ban landlords and their agents from requiring tenants and licensees of privately rented housing in England, and persons acting on their behalf or guaranteeing their rent, to make any payments in connection with a tenancy, with some key exceptions: the rent; a refundable tenancy deposit capped at six weeks’ rent; a refundable holding deposit to reserve a property, capped at one week’s rent; a capped payment for changing a tenancy agreement when requested by the tenant; payments associated with early termination of the tenancy, when requested by the tenant; payments in respect of utilities and council tax; and payments in the event of a default by the tenant, such as replacing a lost key or late rent payment fine, capped at the level of the landlord’s loss.
In the Bill, the term “in connection” with a tenancy refers to any payments required by the landlord or agent throughout a tenancy. This is an important point, as we want to ensure that landlords and agents do not just transfer their fees to another stage of the tenancy, such as exit. The proposed legislation will also prevent tenants from being required to contract the services of a third party.