In February this year, the government issued The Housing White Paper, which lays out how the government intends to deal with the housing crisis. A portion of the paper deals with the rental market, and looks at how things could be improved for people renting their homes. The government plans to do this by making landlords accountable for the properties they are letting, and making sure their tenants are living in safe conditions. The paper also covers two very contentious aspects of the rental market: the length of tenancies, and letting agents’ fees.
Letting agents’ fees
The amount of people who rent their homes from private landlords has almost doubled over the last decade, and now stands at around four million. The majority of renters are satisfied with the tenure, but the government has concerns about the upfront costs of letting agents’ fees.
The English Housing Survey found the average agent’s fee was £223 in the year 2014/15, an increase of 60% over a five-year period. However, research by the Citizens Advice Bureau reported that some letting fees are as high as £700.
Because the letting agents are employed by landlords, tenants have no control over these charges. Transparency over these fees has already been introduced, but now the government aims to stop tenants being charged fees. The feeling is the high cost of these fees deters tenants moving from homes that have become unsuitable for them. Removing the costs for tenants should make the rental market more competitive, and this can only be good news for renters.
Longer tenancy agreements
The White Paper also highlights the problem of the length of tenancies. Many landlords prefer short-term tenancies of 12 months. The attraction of a short tenancy to landlords is the opportunity to increase the rent at the end of the tenancy. However, this means that tenants are not able to plan for the future.
In the White Paper, the government intends to encourage landlords to offer tenancies of three years or more. This will provide tenants with the security of knowing they will not have to move every twelve months.
Will it make renting easier?
Without the cost of letting fees, it will make it easier for tenants to move when their tenancy ends if the new agreement is not suitable for them. Many people are reluctant to move because of the financial pressures of finding the money for letting fees. Also, longer tenancy agreements will give greater security, while with the strengthening of laws on rogue landlords, life for tenants will be greatly enhanced.
It is important to bear in mind this is just a White Paper and has yet to be debated in Parliament before any of the recommendations in it become law. There may be a few obstacles to overcome before this happens.
However, there are plenty of good landlords offering excellent properties for rent in Wimbledon. If you are looking for somewhere to rent in Wimbledon, why not contact us today and let us find you a home to suit you.