Tenant Fees Bill – ‘Lost keys’ clause attacked by Citizens Advice

Tenant Fees Bill – ‘Lost keys’ clause attacked by Citizens Advice

The Government’s Tenant Fees Bill has been criticised by Citizens Advice over a ‘lost keys’ clause.

The clause, which will allow letting agents to impose unlimited charges for so-called ‘tenancy breaches’, such as the loss of keys or the late payment of rent, could be used as a loophole by unscrupulous agents, allowing them to continue to charge unrestricted fees.

The advice organisation, part of a network of 316 charities, which addresses consumer issues, also criticised the length of time the Tenant Fees Bill was taking to become legislation, saying that in the meantime letting agents were receiving £13 million per month in “uncompetitive fees” from tenants.

Citizens Advice is calling on the Government to address the default fees issue by including in the Bill what can and what cannot be charged for services to tenants, along with a rental deposit cap of four weeks.

The organisation’s chief executive, Gillian Guy, said: “The government’s pledge to ban fees will be fundamentally undermined unless the clause on default fees is significantly tightened. The loophole leaves tenants vulnerable to rogue landlords and agents looking to continue charging unfair fees.”

She added: “The government must tighten this clause and issue a clearer definition of what a default fee is. Leaving this just to guidance risks poor outcomes for both renters and landlords.”