Deposit caps and three-year tenancies – the changes to renting that you need to know about in 2019

The number of people renting has doubled since 1996/97 to 4.7 million (20 per cent) households.

But the Tenant Fees Bill, which is set to have its third and final reading in the House of Lords this month after being approved by Parliament, contains a number of changes to boost renters' rights.

This includes a ban on letting fees and a cap on the cost of deposits, which the Government says has the "potential to save tenants in the private rented sector hundreds of pounds".

The Government adds that the Bill should also make the market "more transparent".

It's set to take force later this year.

What help is out there for first-time buyers?

Help to Buy Isa – It's a tax-free savings account where for every £200 you save, the Government will add an extra £50. But there's a maximum limit of £3,000 which is paid to your solicitor when you move.

Help to Buy equity loan – The Government will lend you up to 20 per cent of the home's value – or 40 per cent in London – after you've put down a five per cent deposit. The loan is on top of a normal mortgage but it can only be used to buy a new build property.

Lifetime Isa – This is another Government scheme that gives anyone aged 18 to 39 the chance to save tax-free and get a bonus of up to £32,000 towards their first home. You can save up to £4,000 a year and the Government will add 25 per cent on top.

Shared ownership – Co-owning with a housing association means you can buy a part of the property and pay rent on the remaining amount. You can buy anything from 25 to 75 per cent of the property but you're restricted to specific ones.

"First dibs" in London – London Mayor Sadiq Khan is working on a scheme that will restrict sales of all new-build homes in the capital up to £350,000 to UK buyers for three months before any overseas marketing can take place.

Starter Home Initiative – A Government scheme that will see 200,000 new-build homes in England sold to first-time buyers with a 20 per cent discount by 2020. To receive updates on the progress of these homes you can register your interest on the Starter Homes website.

We've rounded-up what you need to know, as well as the other key changes coming into force that will affect renters in 2019.

Ban on letting agent fees to take force

The Tenant Fees Bill bans letting fees paid by tenants in the private rented sector.

Housing charity Shelter says tenants shell out an average of £272 in fees, so this will save people a pretty penny.

But experts have warned that renters could still be open to being charged "default fees" – such as when they lose their key or breach their contract.

Under the rules, agents and landlords will still be allowed tenants fees associated with:

  • a change or early termination of a tenancy requested by the tenant – but this will be capped at £50 unless the landlord or agent can demonstrate that greater costs were incurred
  • utilities, communication services and council tax
  • payments arising from a default by the tenant, such as replacing a lost key.

Landlords and estate agents will also only be able to recover "reasonable costs".

For example, they won't be able to charge tenants hundreds of pounds for a damaged item that actually only costs a few pounds to replace.

Cap on tenancy deposits to come in

The Tenant Fees Bill will also cap the deposit renters pay at the start of a tenancy at six weeks’ rent.

While deposits to hold a property will be capped at no more than one week’s rent.

Shelter says the average weekly private rent is £192, so these caps should make renting more affordable as upfront costs should be less.

Three-year tenancies in the pipeline

Plans published last year saw proposals introduced for a minimum three-year tenancy term with a six-month break clause.

The idea is to help renters put down roots, and give landlords longer term financial security.

A consultation on this has since closed but the Government is yet to reveal its final decision.

Industry insiders claimed in September that the ground-breaking guarantee was being killed off by a nervous Downing Street.

Housing court could be set-up

The Government is currently consulting on whether a specialist court should be set up to deal with housing disputes.

You've got until January 22 to respond to the consultation.

Renters' cash to be better protected

The Tenant Fees Bill will also force property agents in the private rented sector that hold renters' cash to be members of a "client money protection scheme".

These client money protection schemes will have to be approved by the Secretary of State.

The idea behind this is to provide a safety net if providers went bust. It's expected to take force from April 1.

These are the areas of the UK where it’s cheaper to RENT than buy – and it's not just London.

But the cost of renting for students has jumped by a THIRD in six years.

Elsewhere, a tiny London studio flat with a kitchen in the bedroom costing £250,000 was the most viewed property on portal Zoopla last year.

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