Private renters

I appreciate the difficulties many renters face in dealing with landlords and letting agents, and would like to assure you that action is being taken to help the 4.5 million households in the private rented sector by protecting them from rogue landlords, banning unfair fees, and ensuring they have access to longer-term tenancies.

While rogue landlords account for a minority of private rented sector proprietors, I welcome Government action to put dodgy rogue landlords on notice. In 2018, a national database of rogue landlords was brought in, with landlords convicted of a range of criminal offences to be included so that councils can keep a closer eye on those with a poor track record. Furthermore, landlords convicted of offences under the government’s new law may also be given banning orders preventing them from leasing accommodation for a period of time, ranging from 12 months to life. An extra £2.4 million in funding for more than 50 councils tackling rogue landlords was announced in January 2019.

I am also glad that the Tenant Fees Act reduces costs at the outset for tenants and improve transparency in the private rented sector. The Act abolishes letting agent fees for renters, cap tenancy deposits at five weeks’ rent, and save tenants between £25 and £70 per year. This will, in the words of Shelter, “ease the significant financial pressures renters face when moving, whilst making the lettings market more competitive and transparent.”

The Government has also taken steps to improve private renters’ access to longer-term, family-friendly tenancies, publishing a Model Tenancy Agreement which landlords and tenants can use as the basis for longer tenancies.

At a local level I have been working with Lewes Citizens Advice Bureau to tackle many of the issue faced by tenants in the private rented sector. Their research on the scale of fees and rents payable in our towns of Seaford, Polegate, Lewes and Newhaven helped secure my debate in Parliament last year and I am pleased the Government is now taking positive steps that will make a real difference to tenants in the Lewes area and across the country.