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Newham’s mayor criticises government bill which would scrap letting agent fees and limit holding deposits for private tenants

PUBLISHED: 19:00 05 September 2018

Newham's mayor Rokhsana Fiaz said a deposit cap of six weeks rent, which the bill proposes, is still too high for Newham's residents. Picture: Newham Council

Newham's mayor Rokhsana Fiaz said a deposit cap of six weeks rent, which the bill proposes, is still too high for Newham's residents. Picture: Newham Council

Rokhsana Fiaz

The mayor of Newham has criticised a government bill which would ban letting fees and cap tenancy deposits in England.

Rokhsana Fiaz said the Tenant Fees Bill doesn’t go nearly far enough, claiming it’s “too little, too late”.

The bill went to report stage in the House of Commons today (Wednesday), the penultimate reading before being debated in the House of Lords.

Ms Fiaz said: “While we welcome the introduction of limits to upfront fees and holding deposits, for the 51,000 households renting in Newham, this bill is too little, too late.

“By failing to address the enormous sums tenants have to find for deposits, the government has missed an opportunity to protect millions from the worst effects of the broken housing market.”

The bill aims to reduce the costs tenants face at the beginning of a private tenancy. It proposes capping holding deposits at one week’s rent, and capping the amount that can be charged for changes to a tenancy at £50.

The bill also recommends limiting deposits at six weeks rent, which Ms Fiaz criticised for being too high.

She said: “For the average Newham resident, a six week deposit works out at an eye-watering £1,902, which on top of sky-high rents, presents an enormous barrier for people on low incomes.”

Ms Fiaz said deposits should be limited to three or four weeks rent. She also said the bill should give more powers to local councils to licence letting agents themselves, and provide more funding for councils to pay for trading standards services which could police letting agents.

Newham Council has a private rented sector licensing scheme, which has led to the prosecution of more than 1,200 rogue landlords. It’s also set up a ratings system which gives all letting agents in the borough a zero to five star rating.

A spokeswoman from the ministry of housing said: “We want to help renters in this country by making the rental market fairer and more transparent.

“Through banning unfair letting fees and capping tenancy deposits, the bill will save tenants around £240 million a year.

“We do not recommend landlords require six weeks rent for a deposit, this is an upper limit which has been set.”


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