The government has been busy in recent months trying to make renting safer and cheaper for the UK’s approximately nine million tenants.
How will this affect you?
Here’s our guide to the changes. Let’s take a closer look at understanding your new additional rights as a tenant.
Is it getting cheaper to rent a home?
Yes – as of June 1st, 2019 – thanks to the Tenant Fees ban – all renters taking out new tenancies or renewing existing ones only have to pay for certain allowable charges.
What charges should renters expect to pay?
Renters can still expect to pay:
- Monthly rent
- A rental deposit (capped at five weeks’ rent)
- Default fees (charges for things like replacing keys)
- A refundable holding deposit (capped at one week’s rent)
- Cost for any services provided as per their contract, such as communal broadband
How will the Tenant Fees Ban help me?
In 2020, the Tenant Fees Ban will cover all tenancies, regardless of when they started or were renewed.
- This will save tenants hundreds of pounds when they next move home (between £230 and £400 on average)
- It will make it easier and cheaper to move between rented properties
If your new rented property costs £400 a month, after June the most you can be charged will be the first month’s rent and a five-week deposit (£500). So, in total, it will cost £900 up front to move in.
Before you do collect the keys, the agent may ask for a refundable ‘holding deposit’ which in this case would be £100.
Will rent increase?
It has been predicted that some landlords and letting agents may charge higher rents to cover their ‘lost’ fees, but that remains to be proved.
Some agents did try find a way around the ban; asking tenants to renew their contracts before June 1st even though they were not due for renewal until afterwards.
Is this only in England?
A similar fees ban has been in operation within Scotland for some time, and a fees ban is also due to go live in September 2019 in Wales. Northern Ireland is consulting on its proposals.
Is the eviction process getting fairer?
The government is planning to overhaul the eviction process and is proposing to reduce the number of reasons a landlord can remove you from a property.
What’s the current situation?
At the moment, landlords can ask a tenant to move out if they want to live in the property themselves or sell it.
To do this, they use a Section 21 notice which is also known as a ‘no excuse’ notice. These are to be abolished, most likely next year.
What would this mean?
A tenant could only be evicted if they fail to pay the rent or behave badly in or around the property.
A ban has been in place in Scotland for several years, and a similar ban is being proposed in Wales, but not in Northern Ireland.
What happens if my property is damp?
Following a new renting law brought in during March 2019, landlords must now ensure that a rental home is ‘fit for human habitation’.
This means a property cannot have any serious defects.
What responsibilities does my landlord have?
A landlord has a number of responsibilities, including
- Making good repairs
- Ensuring the property is free from damp;
- Maintaining adequate natural lighting, ventilation, water supply, sanitation
- Providing acceptable food preparation areas or, in other words, a decent kitchen
- Following a landlord health and safety checklist
Tenants are now able to take landlords to court if they contravene these basic minimum standards.
This housing standards bill covers England, but similar legislation is being considered in Wales. Corresponding regulations have already been introduced in Northern Ireland and Scotland.
How can I spot rogue landlords?
The government has set up The Database of Rogue Landlords and Property Agents but only local authorities can make entries.
The government says it wants to change this and tenants worried about a letting agent or landlord will soon be able to call up their local housing office to see if an agent or landlord are on the database.
In the capital, the same information is available to the public via The Mayor of London’s online checker service.
Ministers have also released £2 million to fund the policing of the system which is designed to ban and also name and shame those who commit serious offences.
What are the landlord offences?
Tenants have many rights – it’s essential these are met. Serious landlord offences include:
- Ignoring fire and gas safety regulations
- Colluding in housing benefit fraud
- Ignoring council improvement notices
- Collusion in cannabis cultivation or drug dealing
- Poor management of Houses of Multiple Occupancy (the official term for bedsits)
- Illegal evictions and violent or sexual offences against tenants
In Wales, rogue landlords are policed through the Rent Smart Wales registration scheme. Scotland has its Landlord Accreditation Scheme. In Northern Ireland all landlords must be registered with a central, publicly available database.
Tenants deserve the facts; this ensures a smooth tenancy and reduces the risk of nasty surprises. Getting a property report can provide you with location-specific details about a particular area, such as crime rates. After all, you may not be buying there, but it’s still your home!