1.The Government believes that the lettings market is not functioning fairly for tenants and requires intervention. As a result, it announced its intentions in the 2016 Autumn Statement to ban fees chargeable to tenants (“tenant fees”). The commitment was later referenced in the Conservative Party’s 2017 General Election and in the 2017 Queen’s Speech. Following a public consultation between April and June 2017, the Government published the draft Tenant Fees Bill on 1 November 2017. A ban on tenant fees is not a new idea to Parliament. It was a 2015 and 2017 manifesto pledge of both the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties and was the subject of a 2016 private Members’ Bill in the House of Lords.
2.On publication of the draft Bill, the Secretary of State wrote to the Committee inviting Parliamentary scrutiny with a view to ensuring that the draft Bill would achieve the Government’s objectives. Our inquiry focused on the aims of the draft Bill and considered whether there were any loopholes or potential unintended consequences, whether it could be effectively enforced and how it would impact tenants, landlords and letting agents. This Report sets out our key conclusions and recommendations ahead of the formal introduction of the Bill to Parliament. An assimilation of the various ways in which we recommend, in the body of the Report, that the Government should amend the text before introducing the final Bill to Parliament can be found in the Annex.
3.In scrutinising the draft Bill, we found some minor legal drafting errors and anomalies which have been resolved informally with officials from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. Details can be found in the Annex. More significant technical issues are raised in the chapters below.
4.We thank all those who have contributed to our inquiry. We received over 60 written submissions and held five evidence sessions, hearing from a range of stakeholders including tenants, landlords, letting agents and local authorities. We are also grateful to the House of Lords Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform for agreeing to consider the Government’s draft delegated powers memorandum at short notice. We also held two private meetings with officials from the Ministry which we found particularly useful. We hope that our Report, and the oral and written evidence we have collected, which we will seek to tag to the debates on the Bill, will assist the House in considering the Bill when it is introduced.
1 Secretary of State Sajid Javid, , 1 November 2017
Published: 29 March 2018