Deposit cap 'a rent cheats' charter'

by Gary Whittaker

New plans to set a cap on the level of deposit new tenants have to pay is a cheats' charter, the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) has said. 

The government's Draft Tenant Fees Bill proposes to restrict the amount tenants can be charged to the equivalent of six weeks rent.

However, the RLA wants this to be raised to eight weeks, noting that its own research has shown 40 per cent of private landlords have been faced by tenants not paying their final month's rent over the last three years. 

It said extending the figure by an extra two weeks would ensure that the final month is covered in addition to the costs incurred if any damage or other problems are left behind at the end of a tenancy. 

The RLA also said the bill misses an opportunity to help tenants. It said this could be done by creating a mechanism for deposits to be transferred from one property to another when tenants move home. 

Another suggestion is that the bill could also provide for electronic notification of a tenancy deposit being protected. 

Commenting on the bill and its provisions, policy director for the RLA David Smith, said: "Ministers need to address the problem of tenants failing to pay rent every bit as strongly as rogue landlords. 

"It is not unreasonable that landlords should have the security to know that funds are available to cover the unacceptable practice of those tenants who do not pay their rent at the end of the tenancy and, in some case, leave the property in an unacceptable state."

He added that in a bid for "quick popularity" the government had missed an opportunity to improve tenant access to private rented housing. 

The RLA recently argued that a range of government policies have been counterproductive for the private rental sector and risk restricting the contribution it can make to providing more homes.

Responding to prime minister Theresa May's speech on the National Planning Policy Framework earlier this month, it said the introduction of higher stamp duty for landlords and the phasing out of mortgage interest relief would simply force landlords to pass the extra costs on to tenants.

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23-March-18Legal News