The Tenant Fees Bill, which passed its final stage in Parliament on 23 January 2019 before Royal Assent, will stop renters being forced to pay £160 million a year in unfair and uncompetitive fees.
The Bill is expected to become law from 1 June 2019. From then the only money renters should have to pay when they move into a new home will be their deposits and advance rent.
CAWO welcomed the news as their 2018 Settled and Safe research showed that fewer people can afford their own homes, and more are being pushed into the private rental sector.
CAWO, which deals with a range of issues for people in West Oxfordshire, found that over 26% of housing issues raised in 2017/18 were about private rented houses.
The ‘Settled and Safe’ report highlights that a 2-bedroom home near Witney now costs on average £1212 per month. The local housing allowance is just £769.62, leaving the majority of people on Housing Benefit or Universal Credit having to find an extra £450 per month – a huge struggle for people who are already at a financial disadvantage. In addition, a recent search showed just 2% of properties in West Oxfordshire were affordable on the £769 allowance which demonstrates the clear need for more affordable housing.
In 2018, Citizens Advice West Oxfordshire (CAWO) helped 222 private renters with 404 different issues. The top 5 issues reported were tenancy deposit protection, repairs and maintenance, rents, problems with letting agents and the costs of deposits and rent in advance.
CAWO are campaigning to make West Oxfordshire private housing more accessible and affordable. The charity have launched a new private housing survey which focuses on hearing from people affected by high rents, having issues with landlords or letting agents or struggling to find private housing on a low income.
The charity are asking people to share their private housing rental experiences on http://bit.ly/rentingwestox. The two-minute survey is open until 31 March 2019.
“The passing of the new Tenant’s Bill is a significant achievement for Citizens Advice. We are campaigning locally to make housing more accessible and affordable for private renters in West Oxfordshire. If you have struggled with private housing in West Oxfordshire, please share or fill in our survey at http://bit.ly/rentingwestox. It will help us support low income families and the most vulnerable people in West Oxfordshire”
Teresa Archer, Chief Officer at Citizens Advice West Oxfordshire
Notes to editors
- Calculated £160m a year using figures from the 2014/15 English Housing Survey (latest available data): at that time there were 4.3 million private renting households, 30% had lived at their current accommodation less than a year, and 52% of this group paid a fee during their tenancy, at an average amount of £241.
- Citizens Advice includes the national charity; the network of independent local Citizens Advice charities across England and Wales; the Citizens Advice consumer service; and the Witness Service.
- Citizens Advice West Oxfordshire is an independent charity that exists to provide free, confidential, independent advice to people in West Oxfordshire.
- Citizens Advice telephone advice number is 03444 111 444