Second Reading Passed for Tenant Fees Bill

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The second reading for the tenant fees bill saw the bill passed in the House of Lords this week without amendment.

Despite several changes being put forward by Labour and Liberal Democrat peers during the one-hour debate for the second reading, the tenant fees bill passed and is likely to become law within months.

The amendments tabled during the second reading were rejected by Lord Bourne, the government’s representative on housing in the Lords.

They included a limit on the costs of replacing tenants in a shared house to £50, rather than the current average of around £250 that both incoming and outgoing tenants are often asked to pay.

There was also an amendment aimed to prevent landlords and agents from overcharging tenants who seek to quit a tenancy before the end of the minimum period. This wanted to limit charges to the lost rent up to a new tenant moving in rather than the charge simply being deemed ‘reasonable’.

Other amendments tabled during the second reading included an attempt to force agents and landlords to find the best utility rates for tenants whose rent includes gas and electricity bills – seen as a loophole by several lords who said could be exploited by agents after the ban. Also, an amendment to prevent landlords charging tenants for a Right to Rent test was tabled.

The only issue raised during the second reading that was agreed by Lord Bourne to consider and include in the bill report stage due on 5th December was to require landlords and agents to tell tenants why they have withheld a holding deposit – the so called ‘transparency’ clause.

The third and final reading of the bill will come after the report stage, where further amendments will be considered before royal assent is granted to the bill in the new year.

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