We welcome the Tenant Fees Bill, introduced in May of this year, but it should go further, specifically in protecting the rights of private renters, who have long been forced to pay thousands in deposit fees.
The current form of the Tenant Fees Bill is on the right track to providing desperately needed improvements the rights of private renters, but is a shell of what it should be. The average deposit will now set renters back an eye-watering £1,161, something that is simply unaffordable for many renters. Yet the legislation in its current form has the deposit capped at six-weeks’ rent, despite Ministers previously vowing for it to be capped at four.
A cap at this level would only benefit 6% of renters who pay over six-weeks’ rent in deposits, so we need to go further to help the vast majority of renters who are struggling to afford high deposits. Labour would provide real
No where is this more pertinant than in London, where private renters now outnumber homeowners. The Mayor of London recently criticised the government for ‘watering-down’ the strength of the bill, and is in agreement that deposits should become capped at three weeks’ rent rather than six; highlighting the fact that the weakened strength of this bill could have adverse affects on those living in London.
It is also specified within the contents of the Bill that it does not come into force on the day that it is passed, and this could have adverse affects on a new generation of students moving into rented accommodation. The Bill coming into force on the day of its passing could prevents thousands of cash-strapped students in London from being forced into paying out sums of money that they wouldn’t have to pay if the Bill were to come into force upon its passing. This is especially the case if an amendment is made to reduce deposits to a maximum of three week’s rent rather than six.
The Bill also makes no requirement for the Secretary of State to report intermittently on the effect of the Act upon private renters. With our amendment, the Secretary of State would be made to report on the effect of the Act annually for five years after its passing, to ensure that it is having its desired effect.