Tenant Fees Act a first step in addressing property expert Home Management Co Ltd's concerns
The new Tenant Fees Act, which came into force in mid-2019, has placed new rules and regulations on landlords and agents on what they are permitted to charge tenants and renters.
Under the legislation, landlords will only be able to recover 'reasonably incurred costs' and will have to provide evidence of these costs before bestowing these costs upon their tenants.
The changes will help put an end to the ill practices of some landlords, who overcharge tenants for minor damages or issue exaggerated bills to replace household items.
Letting fees have also been banned entirely, with those ignorant of the ban liable to face a fine of £5,000, which could increase to £30,000 for repeat offences, a move which has divided opinion in the market.
Sue Hughes-Thomas, founder and director of Hertfordshire-based residential letting and property management firm, Home Management Co Ltd, expressed her own concerns around these "bad landlords and cowboy agents" in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.
Hughes-Thomas insisted in the firm's best practice article, prior to the legislation being introduced, that more was "needed" in order to "regulate" ill-practice of landlords who "sidestep the regulations and put tenants' lives at risk in substandard properties".
The new legislation on landlords may come as welcome news and go some way toward limiting the ability of rogue landlords to exploit their tenants, but "draconian penalties", as Hughes-Thomas puts it, already exist.
Furthermore, the legislation noticeably falls short on addressing a landlord and agency inspection process which she calls "overwhelmed and underfunded".
To see a tangible solution materialise for Home Management Co Ltd's concerns, the next step for the government will be to explore how to solve the landlord and agent inspection process, to build on this initial headway.
Hughes-Thomas also highlighted existing government policy on taxation of private landlords, calling it one which taxes the private landlord "out of existence", despite the need for them to fill gaps in the market by providing housing to those who cannot afford to purchase their own home, nor be able to acquire local authority housing.
This issue is another notable absentee from the legislation and whether it will also be reviewed by policymakers in the near future remains to be seen.