New laws currently going through parliament will seek to cap or ban the numerous upfront costs often required to secure a property from a private landlord, but campaigners believe that this will only address part of the problem.
England’s 11.5 million private renters have been expected to pay thousands in fees up front, including:
Landlords will still be able to charge fees for cleaning and repair costs, which although necessary on occasion, are often used by unscrupulous landlords and agents as an excuse to extract more money from their tenants.
Tenants regularly report being charged over the odds for the smallest repair job or to replace items that went missing during their tenancy.
And many tenants claim to have never had their full deposits returned, despite having left the property in the condition they found it in.
None of those charges will be banned by the Tenant Fees Bill.
As tenancy deposits are now protected in approved schemes, disagreements over end of tenancy charges can be challenged.
However, with tenants often needing to get their deposits back as quickly as possible in advance of their next move, unscrupulous landlords will realise that outgoing tenants will have no choice other than to accept deductions, or get involved in often protracted negotiations.
A call for clarity
Clearer guidelines have been called for regarding what tenants can and can't be charged for; otherwise it seems inevitable that at least some landlords and agents will continue to seek out the opportunity to make additional charges wherever possible.