Fees charged by letting agents will be discussed in the House of Lords tomorrow as the Renters’ Rights Bill reaches its committee stage in the upper house.
The measure is a Private Members’ Bill moved by Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Grender and is unlikely to become law in its own right, but PMBs often throw up issues which are then integrated into later government legislation.
Baroness Grender’s measure calls for the scrapping agents’ fees for tenants. By amending the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 it seeks to stop letting agents in England charging existing tenants or prospective tenants.
There would be no charges to tenants for registering, for administration charges, inventory and reference checks, and no renewal or exit fees.
Grender also calls for the mandatory registration of landlords and limits on the size of deposits. It also requests an automatic ban for any agent or landlord named on a ‘rogue operator’ database from being granted an HMO licence.
The measure attracted substantial all-party support last time it was debated in the Lords at Second Reading stage in June.
At the time Grender told the Lords that consumer protection for private rental sector tenants was much less developed than in most other commercial activities and she claims renters are "often at the mercy of landlords and lettings agents."
She said: “It is time for government intervention to address this imbalance of power and build up the consumer rights of renters ... Letting agents should not be able to get away with double charging fees, imposing them on both tenants and landlords, when in fact it is only the landlord that is the client."
Yesterday we reported on an initiative by NALS to investigate what would constitute 'reasonable' letting agency fees levied on tenants.