Friday 22nd February 2019
Leading local advice charity, Citizens Advice Exeter, has said that the Tenant Fees Bill, which has passed its final stage in Parliament before Royal Assent, will stop renters being forced to pay £160 million a year in unfair and uncompetitive fees.
Citizens Advice has called for a ban on fees for a decade and worked with Parliamentarians across the political spectrum to make sure the Bill was as watertight as possible.
This included closing a “default fees” loophole that could have led to landlords and agents charging fees through the backdoor by adding unfair terms to tenancy agreements.
Citizens Advice also urged legislators to reduce the amount of money required for a deposit from 6 weeks’ rent to 4 weeks. The final Bill compromised on a deposit worth 5 weeks’ rent.
The Bill is expected to become law from 1 June. From then the only money renters should have to pay when they move into a new home will be their deposits and rent advance.
There are now 4.7 million households in the private-rented sector, the second largest tenure in England behind home ownership.
In the past 12 months, Citizens Advice Exeter saw a 4.58% increase in housing enquiries. The main increases being:
- 4% about private sector properties
- 8% about local authority housing, and
- 9% about threatened homelessness
Steve Barriball, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Exeter, said:
“This is a landmark moment for the millions of people who rent privately.
“For too long families and other renters have had to hand over hundreds of pounds on unfair and uncompetitive letting fees every time they moved home.
“We look forward to working to do even more to strengthen the hand of the growing number of renters in a market where they have little bargaining power.”
In 2017/18, Citizens Advice Exeter helped 25,641 local people with a wide variety of problems, including issues with housing, debt, benefits, employment, relationships and consumer rights. Some 77 per cent of people said they would not have been able to solve their problem without the charity’s support.
Steve added: “Our commitment is always to provide the advice people need for the problems they face. However, we can only continue to do this if we have the necessary resources and we need to increase public and business donations. Anyone wishing to support our work can donate on-line by going to the Support Us section of our website (www.citizensadviceexeter.org.uk)”
Alternatively, donations can be made in person at the charity’s offices on Dix’s Field in Exeter.