The tenant fees bill has passed its second reading in the House of Lords without amendment and is now only a few months away from becoming law.
During a short one-hour debate several changes were tabled by both Liberal Democrat and Labour peers including campaigner Baroness Grender, all of which were rejected by Lord Bourne, the government’s representative on housing in the Lords.
These included amendments to limit the costs of replacing tenants in a shared house to £50, rather than the £250 that both incoming and outgoing tenants are often asked to pay.
Another amendment sought to prevent landlords and agents from ‘double charging’ tenants who ask to quit a tenancy before the minimum period has finished.
This would have required agents and landlords to only charge tenants for the lost rent up to the point a new tenant moved in, whereas now landlords will only be required to pass a ‘reasonableness’ test.
Tenant fees bill
Other amendments attempted to force agents and landlords to find the best utility rates for tenants whose rent includes gas and electricity bills – a loophole that several lords said could be exploited by agents after the ban.
Baroness Gardner also tabled an amend to prevent landlords charging tenants for a Right to Rent test, which she claimed was another potential loophole.
One issue that Lord Bourne agreed to look at and include in the bill’s report stage due on 5th December is to require landlords and agents to tell tenants why they have withheld a holding deposit – the so called ‘transparency’ clause.
After its Report stage the bill will receive its third and final reading. Any further amendments will then be considered before it receives royal assent early next year.