Today sees the return of MPs to Parliament following the Christmas break, and one early task is to hear oral evidence on the draft Tenants’ Fees Bill - the measure which is likely to outlaw the levying of agents’ fees on tenants in England.
The key elements of the Bill’s proposals are the creation of a civil offence with a fine of £5,000 for an initial breach of the ban on letting agent fees and creating a criminal offence where a person has been fined or convicted of the same offence within the last five years.
It also requires Trading Standards to enforce the ban and to make provision for tenants to be able to recover unlawfully charged fees.
It also agrees to appoint a lead enforcement authority in the lettings sector and it amends the Consumer Rights Act of 2015 to specify that the letting agent transparency requirements should apply to property portals as well as agencies’ own websites.
This afternoon MPs on the Communities and Local Government committee will hear evidence from Kate Webb, head of policy at campaigning charity Shelter; the celebrated housing academic Dr Julie Rugg, who is senior research fellow at the Centre for Housing Policy based at the University of York; and Professor Ian Loveland of The City Law School at the University of London.
This oral evidence session is the first of several, which will include trade bodies; the committee is charged with conducting what is known as “pre-legislative scrutiny” of the government's proposals.