Government introduces new measures to ensure renters get a fairer deal

26/06/2017

For many years, those renting have had a difficult time fighting against unfair contracts, costly hidden charges and rising rents. However, this is all set to change thanks to new measures that have been introduced by the government earlier this year, which are set to revitalise and revamp the rental housing sector.

The new measures seek to provide a fairer deal to those renting through the introduction of a letting fees ban. Introduced in April 2017, the government hopes to encourage greater competition within the rental sector, end hidden charges and bring about a stop to tenants being hit with expensive upfront payments that they struggle to afford.

It comes after the charity Shelter published a report that showed almost one in four people across England and Wales believe they have been unfairly charged fees by a letting agent. These fees vary substantially in amount, but the charity discovered that at least one in seven tenants are required to pay more than £500.

As Housing Minister, Gavin Barwell, said in an official statement: “We’re determined to make all types of housing more affordable and secure for ordinary working people. Tenants should only be required to pay their rent, alongside a refundable deposit, and not face hidden fees. Our housing white paper sets out other ways we will help those renting, including building more homes for rent and providing longer, family-friendly tenancies.”

The new move was introduced after a small minority of estate and lettings agents were seeking to exploit their relationship between the landlords and renters by adding unfair charges into the mix as part of the rental process. The government also hopes to stop these agents from double-charging tenants and property owners for doing the same service once. Additionally, it is proposed that any letting agent fees that are being charged to tenants, either by the landlords or third parties, will be banned. This means tenants get a much fairer deal when moving in and out of a property.

In introducing these measures, it is hoped that standards will improve for those renting. Additionally, landlords will be required to do much more research into competitive fees available on the market for the services that they’re paying for. However, it isn’t just the renters that are being protected, and this new measure being introduced shows a recognition of the dubious fees that landlords are also being hit with. The goal is to make the rental market far more transparent so that landlords aren’t paying for services they shouldn’t, and to help them find an agent that actually offers them a quality of service without double-charging.

The decision comes as part of a recent housing white paper, which seeks to create a much better and larger private rental sector that is working to serve the needs of both the landlords and tenants. It also aims to build more homes for the country, which is currently experiencing a housing shortage and to fix the problem of how expensive it is to rent. They are also looking to allow developers to offer properties that have a more affordable rental price, along with building further affordable housing.

Additionally, they are seeking to amend planning regulations to help councils put plans together for constructing a greater number of long-term Build to Rent homes. Finally, they want to ensure more family-friendly, long-term tenancies are made available within the private rental sector, to ensure those renting have greater stability. The introduction of this regulation has come alongside further rules that seek to crack down on rogue landlords who aren’t fulfilling their responsibilities. This has enabled councils to fine these individuals for a number of housing offences up to £30,000 as an enforceable alternative to prosecuting them. This is all expected to work together in order to fix what is perceived by many as being a broken housing market.

Ultimately, it is about ensuring the estate agents and landlords working in this marketplace are conducting themselves fairly and at an affordable, reasonable price. It is enabling renters to get a fairer deal, but also providing transparency to landlords too. Time will be testament to whether it has the desired impact.