Plans to stop letting agents charging tenants for an inventory check could see costs passed on to landlords, warns the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC).
The AIIC is urging the government to re-evaluate its Renters' Rights Bill, which includes measures to prevent agents charging for inventories, or risk seeing landlords lumbered with greater expenses which will almost certainly then be incorporated into tenants’ rent.
Last month, the Renters' Rights Bill – which also includes measures to ban agents charging tenants registration fees, admin fees, reference check fees, renewal fees and exit fees – was given an unopposed second reading in the House of Lords.
The Private Members' Bill was set up by Baroness Grender and has received strong support from Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs – it is thought the Bill has a strong chance of success.
“Here at the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks, we’re strongly opposed to the banning of inventory fees charged to tenants by letting agents," said Patricia Barber, Chair of the AIIC.
“We envisage that if banned these charges would continue to be charged to tenants through the unspecified and unclear means of a higher rent.”
Barber expresses concern that not being able to charge tenants a fee may encourage some letting agents to bypass inventories altogether – something which she says could be extremely costly for all parties involved.
"A detailed inventory helps landlords, agents and tenants to determine exactly how the property's condition has changed over the course of the tenancy, what can be deemed fair wear and tear and what needs to be replaced and therefore deducted from the tenant's deposit,” adds Barber.
"We totally understand that some fees charged to tenants are too high and complicated, but we believe that if fair and worthwhile fees like inventory checks are made clear to the tenant then there should be no problem in them being charged."
"The vast majority of letting agents are transparent in the fees they charge to tenants. Banning fees altogether and particularly inventory check fees is certainly not the answer and could contribute to more deposit disputes and property damage further down the line,” she concludes.
The Renters' Rights Bill remains some way off becoming law as it still has to pass through the House of Commons before receiving Royal Assent. Its next stage is the Committee stage in the House of Lords, a date for which is yet to be announced.
The AIIC is the UK's largest membership organisation for independent clerks and recently announced that it has joined the Property Redress Scheme.