The Association of Independent Inventory Clerks says the government should not back a provision in the Renters' Rights Bill which would stop letting agents charging tenants for an inventory check.
The industry body says that these costs will simply be passed to landlords who will then incorporate them into tenants' rent, thus defeating one of the stated objectives of the measure, which is to reduce fees on renters.
Earlier this month the Renters' Rights Bill – which also includes measures to ban agents charging tenants registration fees, admin fees, reference check fees, renewal fees and exit fees – was given an unopposed second reading in the House of Lords.
Some commentators say the Private Members' Bill, which was set up by Baroness Grender and has received strong support from Labour and the Liberal Democrats, stands an unusually good chance of becoming law because it runs alongside a series of petitions urging that lettings agents’ fees in England and Wales should be banned or capped.
AIIC chair Patricia Barber says not being able to charge a fee may encourage some letting agents to bypass inventories altogether, which could be costly for all parties involved.
"A detailed inventory helps landlords, agents and tenants to determine exactly how the property's condition has changed over the course of the tenancy, what can be deemed fair wear and tear and what needs to be replaced and therefore deducted from the tenant's deposit” she says.
"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 adds.
"The vast majority of letting agents are transparent in the fees they charge to tenants. Banning fees altogether and particularly inventory check fees is certainly not the answer and could contribute to more deposit disputes and property damage further down the line,” she concludes.
The Renters' Rights Bill now has to pass through the House of Commons before receiving Royal Assent. Its next stage is the Committee stage in the House of Lords, a date for which is yet to be announced.