Tenant Fees Bill returns to Parliament amid calls for further crackdown on agents

The Tenant Fees Bill returns to the Parliamentary agenda this week with Shelter among those turning up the pressure for it to go further.

The legislation will reach report stage and its third reading on Wednesday, giving time for MPs to put forward and debate any amendments to the Bill.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has called for a cap on security deposits of three weeks’ rent rather than the six weeks proposed in the legislation, while there are also concerns regarding exemptions for default fees.

Shelter has again called for all tenant fees to be banned and has warned that exemptions for default fees – such as charges for a lost key – create loopholes for agents and landlords to exploit renters.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “The ban on letting fees will only save renters money if it’s done properly.

“The Bill currently going through Parliament leaves a loophole open for agents and landlords to carry on exploiting renters by charging them ‘default fees’.

“This is effectively a blank cheque to charge ludicrous sums for menial admin jobs.

“We have heard from renters who tell us they’ve been charged £25 to take a bin bag out and even move a jar of peanut butter.

“If the Government think letting fees are worth banning, then they should be worth banning properly.

“The country’s millions of renters won’t thank them in months to come if they’re just being ripped off in brand new ways.”

The Government has said it will clarify what a reasonable default fee is before the ban is implemented.

If approved at the third reading, which is expected to take place after the report stage on Wednesday, the Bill will then go for a first reading in the House of Lords.

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30 Comments

  1. MarkRowe

    Just going to leave this here…

    Polly’s salary, £122,500 per year.

     

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    1. RealAgent

      That gets you a decent mortgage and a nice big home. Wonder how many rooms she lets out to the homeless.

      No charges for tenants losing keys! Utterly rediculous. That Shelter seriously suggest that agents should not only not charge but actually pay for a tenants carelessness or laziness sums up socialist idealistic views of this metropolitan elite bunch of headline grabbers.

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      1. JMK

        Polly pays herself more than that Mark.  The average salary of the 6 Shelter Directors comes in at around 128k.  Jointly it’s a grand total of £763,446 from the last published annual accounts.  It’s probably gone up aways since then too.  You might enjoy this….  https://www.property118.com/free-advice-shelter/

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        1. Haven66

          I don’t know, because I haven’t got the time to check but…

          I’d say it is highly unlikely that Polly has ever owned or run her own business. Ever.

          Which puzzles me, because if that’s the case, she has NO idea about overheads or revenue, or the mounting pressures on those revenues – in any business – let alone the letting agent model. A business model and sector besieged by new legislation and increasing costs, almost on a weekly basis.

          Does Shelter run the DPS? because that’s heavily weighted in favour of the tenant too…

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        2. MarkRowe

          Outstanding article. Also confirms what I have experienced and found out about a high percentage of so called ‘charities’.

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  2. Jrsteeve

    Shouldn’t Shelter be starting work on how they’re going to help find housing for those unable to do so due to the significantly reduced rental stock, thanks to landlords selling up?

    Why would any investor bother now with such minimal return?

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  3. Lettingagent21878

    Shelter remind me of my ex wife

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  4. Eric Walker

    There has to be some balance. Imagine the tenant loses their keys every week. Scotland took a sensible approach as demonstrated by a couple of clauses in the model tenancy agreement below.

    The Landlord will repair or replace any of the fixtures, fittings or furnishings supplied which become defective and will do so within a reasonable period of time.  Nothing contained in this Agreement makes the Landlord responsible for repairing damage caused wilfully or negligently by the Tenant, anyone living with the Tenant or an invited visitor to the Let Property. 
     

    PAYMENT FOR REPAIRS  
     
    The Tenant will be liable for the cost of repairs where the need for them is attributable to his or her fault or negligence, that of any person residing with him or her, or any guest of his or hers. 

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    1. gardenflat

      We’ve always used a similar clause, depending on the relationship with tenant we will allow them to sign our master key out during office hours, go and get it cut and hand it back in. If it’s out of hours then you have two choices, stay over elsewhere and visit the office in the morning or get a lock smith out and pay them directly. We very rarely get a new key cut for a tenant and have to charge them.

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  5. Steve Adams

    It is, yet again clear scaremongering and, no doubt misrepresentation of facts as people do not understand or do not want to understand the background to the “facts”.

    ” £25 to take a bin bag out” – If a contractor is instructed to get rid of a bin bag of rubbish, I defy anyone to get that done for cheaper than £25 and I would imagine that to be true especially in London, let alone in the North West where I am based and I know we would have to pay that for contractors we use to take on such a “small” job.  Or maybe they think we agents should go round and tidy for nothing because, of course, I pay no salaries and get my cars on free leases and I am gifted the fuel that goes in them etc. etc. etc.

    It really does make me want to pull my hair out that people either do not understand or deliberately choose to not “understand” for things that play a part in major decisions that have a major impact on the industry.

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    1. DASH94

      You could charge £200 per job for things like moving bins bags and jars of peanut butter.   It needn’t be a problem if the tenant moved it themselves when they left – there’s no reason at all that they couldn’t do that.

      At least if there is a fee, there’s some incentive for them to do the things themselves

       

       

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      1. gardenflat

        To be fair, i’d move a jar of peanut butter before new tenants moved in and either I or my inventory clerk would be happy to put one bin bag out for the collection guys, should we have to no but it makes sense. Multiple bin bags that over flow the road / wheelie bin or a kitchen full of jars and pasta and other goods is a different matter.

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  6. ArthurHouse02

    In the real world, if you lose something and have to buy a replacement it costs money. If Polly lost the keys to her mansion would she expect the chap/chappess cutting a new key to do it for free? I accept that some tenants have been screwed over, but shelter have to accept that if you create an issues there is often a cost to rectify this.

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    1. Gromit

      not if you live in lala land like Shelter do.

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  7. Jamesderham64

    Would Polly and the mayor like to come and look at the state some of my tenants have left my properties in so to agree that deposits should be reduced to 3 weeks is fair and sensible?

    i really wonder if anyone in a position of power and with such a strong opinion on the subject of fee bans has taken the trouble to actually spend a week in a reputable letting agency such as ours to see what things are like in the real world

    I think not !

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  8. Rayb92

    Shelter is nothing other than the government attack dog. Their propaganda machine just works to underpin what government want in their efforts to win Generation Rent voters .. this is nothing other than a vote winning policy which tenants will pay the ultimate price with increased rents and tougher agents selection processes.  Why can’t tenants see it !

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    1. Will

      That is the way fraudsters work.  If it sounds too good to be true it probably is!

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    2. JMK

      I’d disagree.  Shelter in my opinion are nothing more than L&G’s puppets.

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  9. jeremy1960

    The only loopholes here are Polly and the so called mayor of London, the sooner that they disappear up their own loopholes the better!

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    1. beleagueredlandlord58

      Sounds like the start of a good joke, “Polly and the Mayor”.

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  10. Will

    I wonder if shelter also want parking fines removed as they are unfair, speeding tickets removed because they are unfair. Credit card charges removed, interest charges removed, littering fines removed etc etc the list goes on. Dam fools if you keep to your side of the contract you would not be charged for loosing keys or putting out rubbish.   Perhaps Polly would like to remove other peoples rubbish for free, with her extortionate salary I guess not.  If its a charity why is she not working for nothing? after all that is what she is demanding of landlords and agents.  Another case of do as I say rather than I do!!!!!

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    1. Gromit

      You only need to scratch below the surface to see that Shelter is a self-serving “faux” charity. It exists to perpetuate it own gravy train by promoting itslef in the media with headline grabbing populist private Landlord policies designed to dupe the general public, politicians, and businesses that they spend their massive donations on helping the homeless, whereas the reality is completely the opposite.
      Shelter should be working with the PRS and SRS not against them.

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  11. Peter

    “We have heard from renters who tell us they’ve been charged £25 to take a bin bag out and even move a jar of peanut butter.”

    A charter for tenants to do absolutely nothing at tenancy end knowing they cannot be charged. We might as well not bother presenting the property at commencement.

    Shelter need to understand that tenants themselves will suffer if a complete fee ban is achieved.

     

     

     

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  12. smile please

    As Steve Adams says above, try finding a charity contractor to do this work.

    I am not going to send my staff down to clear out a cupboard of food left there.

    And if i have to get a key cut its not only the cost of cutting the key its the cost of sending my staff out to get it cut. It sounds silly but travel to and from the key cutters, parking, milage, and the cost of taking my staff way from their job. £50 should just about cover it.

    How about the tenant abides by the contract they have signed? leave a property how it was given to them and do not break and lose things?

    My front door was sticking recently and not closing how it should, called out a chap, fixted it in less than a minute, charged me £80.00 its part of life.

    Just because you rent, it does not mean you live in a 5 star hotel with concierge service.

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    1. Dom_P

      That doesn’t sound silly at all; it sounds fair. Staff are going to be receiving a wage regardless of whether they are in the office or out clearing cupboards. In addition you have your employers pension/NI contributions and any payment of staff benefits; it all adds up.

      Absolutely crazy to think that Shelter actually believe this is the correct course of action. It genuinely makes me annoyed!

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  13. DarrelKwong43

    I blame….

    Shelter for calling for deposit legislation, then complain when an agent quite rightly charges the tenant some of the costs involved with complying.

    some of the larger agents (most of whom are ARLA members) who have for the last ten years, been taking the proverbial with the amount of fees being charged to tenants which have not resembled the costs and work involved.

    and the Government for allowing the two parties to get away with it

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  14. simpletruth47

    “The country’s millions of renters won’t thank them in months to come if they’re” – on the street living in a box!

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  15. Jonnie

    Right,

    im going to go against the grain a bit and stick up for this Polly person.

    First being on ten grand a month isn’t a reflection on her abilities, roles like the one she holds don’t require any particular skills in judgement, being open minded, wise, non political and balanced.

    Second she has commissioned the research and has got missile lock on the peanut butter bit and that suits her agenda and view so that is considered good enough, combine this with the reality that she is almost certainly surrounded by people that always nod at her and agree.

    Third, she doesn’t have to consider consequences of her lobbying, or much else, I’m not sure of the numbers but for every quid put in a Shelter collection tin not much makes it through the salary bill and costs of running what she and many believe is a noble cause / her empire and really helps homelessness and this fact alone demonstrates the inability to understand the consequences of her actions.

    So, to add to the things we need to understand about her she’s also got some politicians as mates and because of this we need to help her, and as part of my effort to defend her I think it would be better for everyone including the people she doesn’t raise much money for if she would spend a couple of days working in a busy city centre lettings agent, engage with people on the front line then have a good think about what tenants need.

     

    Jonnie

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    1. Gromit

      I wouldn’t hold my breath on that one. 
      What lower herself and dirty her hands talking to the people she purports to help (perhaps David Cameroon has a few wet wipes going spare), or worse still speak to and co-operate with the people who actually can provide housing to those same people. It would mean lifting her snout from the trough, and that would never do. 

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  16. Will

    Well Jonnie, a most generous offer. The plan is to provider her with; well, a sort of school leaver education on the real world of property and rentals so she can understand the reality of what really happens out there; rather than leaving her to sit in her castle in the sky away from reality.  Sounds useful in giving her a wider view and bigger picture. Perhaps it can be a compulsory scheme for all politicians and Government policy makers as well. (Might still not work though due to the way politicians buy their votes!). Kind regards

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