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What's changing for renters this year

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There’s no denying that moving house is expensive. Scraping together money for a deposit, booking a removal van, and finding six weeks worth of rent up front is enough of a financial strain for most people. Shelling out another few hundred in estate agents’ fees on top can be crippling.

If this sounds familiar, you’re about to breathe a small sigh of relief. Thanks to the Tenant Fees Act – a law that will come into force on the 1st June 2019, banning letting agents from hitting tenants with unnecessary fees. This includes things like credit checks, inventories, cleaning services, referencing and administration charges – which average £337 per move.

Not only does this mean a LOT of pennies saved for renters, it also means complete transparency between letting agents and tenants – currently fees are rarely explained clearly, if at all.

There are also going to be stricter regulations on estate agents, and it’s going to become a requirement for every agent to have a qualification. A code of practice outlining how estate agents should behave is set to be implemented too.

The bill still needs to receive royal assent before it becomes a law but this is expected to happen in the next few weeks, meaning that all tenancies signed on or after 1st June 2019 will be covered. Which is pretty good news for your next move…

Capping deposits

Want some more good news? The act is also setting a cap on deposits so the most you can be charged is 5 weeks’ rent (for rentals under £50,000 per year).

It’s estimated that the change will benefit 1 in 3 renters, making securing a new home much easier for most. And if you’re asked to pay a holding fee to secure a property, you’ll soon save on this too – they’re being capped at no more than one weeks’ rent (and agents must return them to tenants within 14 days).

Three year tenancies

Jump for joy (again): plans to implement three-year standard tenancies are underway too. It’s believed that 81% of renters are currently on six to twelve month leases, meaning they’ve got far less security and risk being forced to leave a property before they’d like to.

The Government are working to make a change, so those in rented homes can put down proper roots and have a steady home for several years. Although these contracts would see the minimum term extended to three years, tenants would still have the option of leaving earlier if they chose to – and different rules are being considered for students, who usually need shorter lets anyway.

This proposition is being consulted on until August, so a firm decision should be made pretty soon.

The not-so great news…

While these changes promise to make renting much fairer, industry experts predict that landlords may hike rent prices up to cover the increased costs that they’d be faced with as a result of these new laws.

If you feel that your landlord is unfairly pushing rent prices up, you can get free help from Shelter or Citizens Advice.

Photo credit: markhodson

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