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Buy-to-let watch: Security in unstable times



By Ying Tan

How would you describe the current political climate in the UK? Chaos is the word that springs to mind for me. Not in living memory have we seen such disarray in Westminster and none of us can claim to know what will happen next. It’s an unsettling time and certainly makes us all value the feeling of security that we’re now clearly lacking.

This current round of Brexit madness has, naturally, grabbed the headlines and as such another piece of news may have gone unnoticed – a piece of news that can actually be linked to the uncertainty we’re all feeling right now.

This month, the Tenant Fees Bill moves one step closer to coming into play, with MPs given the chance to debate the bill in the next few weeks. The reason I think the two are linked is this: this bill, which has certainly caused debate in the industry (and for very valid reasons), is essentially about giving tenants security and stability.

Just as the proposals for longer tenancies will allow renters to feel secure in their home and safe in the knowledge they can’t be turfed out for no reason, this bill will help give people financial security at such an unstable time economically.

The bill limits the amount of deposit that landlords can ask tenants for to a maximum of six weeks while holding deposits are capped at no more than one week’s rent. This is not really going to affect landlords as the vast majority already implement these rules.

The bill also states landlords can only recover ‘reasonable incurred costs’ and evidence must be provided demonstrating what these costs are for. Charges for early termination of tenancies cannot exceed £50 while payments arising from a default by the client have also been capped.

For many renters, the ridiculous fees charged by some agents and the unfair treatment by a very small minority of unscrupulous landlords can cause significant problems and the insecurity this causes can be a major source of stress.

Yes, those operating in this sector will need to adjust and adapt to the new rules but I strongly believe the vast majority of landlords already meet the new regulations and will therefore be largely unaffected. What’s more, I think it’s the rental sector’s obligation to provide fair and fit-for-purpose accommodation to those looking to rent and this goes some way towards doing this.

We’re all now well aware of how uncomfortable insecurity and instability is. The landlord sector must recognise this and do what it can to provide peace of mind to tenants.

Ying Tan is managing director of Buy to Let Club



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