A new Bill in Parliament could further extend tenants’ rights.
The Private Rented Sector Bill, which last week passed its first reading in the House of Commons, would extend the housing ombudsman’s remit to include the private rented sector. It would also cap fees charged by letting agents.
The Bill, presented by Liberal Democrat MP Julian Huppert last week, “strives to give more security and better conditions to those in the private rented sector.” In his speech introducing the proposals, Dr Huppert cited a range of factors impacting tenants, including withholding of deposits, agency fees, and electricity safety checks.
Dr Hupper also called for councils to be “encouraged” to run landlord and property accreditation schemes, although he stopped short of proposing mandatory licensing.
However, the MP urged that Parliament “should not choke the sector in red tape, which would of course reduce investment, restrict choice, and ultimately drive up costs for tenants.” He also welcomed the £6.7 million he says the government has already given to local authorities to combat “the worst slum landlords.”
Elsewhere in his speech Dr Huppert also suggested that new, longer tenancies be introduced, in order to increase security for tenants who wish to stay in properties for more than six months or a year. He called on Parliament to “support the motion and support the millions of families and individuals who rent.”
The Bill will now face a second reading in Parliament, which will be followed by the committee stage.