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RLA: Government should crack down on tenants as well as landlords

Rent cheats could benefit from the government’s plans to cap deposits at six weeks’ rent, according to the Residential Landlords Association (RLA), meaning landlords might end up out of pocket.

The RLA has described the changes set to be introduced in the Draft Tenant Fees Bill, which includes setting a maximum security deposit at six weeks’ rent for all properties, as providing a “charter for rent cheats”, with supporting research showing how 40% of private landlords have reported their tenants not paying their final month’s rent in the past three years.

The Bill is intended to make renting fairer and more affordable for tenants, and other measures proposed include the introduction of a lead enforcement authority in the lettings sector, and allowing tenants to see upfront all the costs of a given property.

But reducing security deposits, the RLA argues, could be to the detriment of landlords whose tenants fail to make rental payments, as well as those who leave properties in various states of disrepair which are then paid for through the security deposits.

Missed opportunity for reform

David Smith, policy director for the RLA, believes that government ministers ought to focus on the issue of tenants who fail to pay rent just as much as they do on cracking down on rogue landlords.

He added: “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.

“In a quest for quick popularity, the government’s plans risk becoming a missed opportunity for fundamental reforms to improve tenants’ ability to access rented housing.”

The RLA would like the cap for security deposits to be set at eight weeks rather than six, and is also calling for the government to look into modernising the current deposit system so that the funds can be transferred from one private rental property to another if they move house, rather than tenants having to raise a new deposit as they await the repayment of their last one.

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