A new law on residential letting fees came into force on 1st June 2019, making it illegal for landlords and estate and letting agents to charge extra fees to renters.
The Tenant Fees Act applies to new tenancies and renewals of tenancies, meaning that landlords and letting agents aren’t able to charge for a range of admin fees that they previously had, and tenancy deposits are now capped to five weeks.
For properties in England, the Tenant Fees Act 2019 means that in addition to rent, lettings agents can only charge tenants (or anyone acting on the tenant’s behalf) the following permitted payments:
The Act also states that agents and landlords don’t have to pay back any fees they have charged a tenant before 1st June 2019.
e.g. if an agent or landlord requires a tenant to pay a fee linked to a contract that started before the ban came into force, such as check-out or renewal fees, they can continue charging those fees until 31st May 2020.
Any fees that are applicable during the tenancy, whether payable at the start, during or end of the tenancy, must be clearly displayed by the lettings agent.
The law around what tenants can be charged for in Wales (https://gov.wales/sites/default/files/publications/2019-08/letting-fees-guidance-for-landlords-and-letting-agents.pdf) when starting new tenancies also came into force on 1st September 2019.
The new law is similar to the changes made in England back in June, but there are key differences to the Tenant Fees Act 2019 in England.
There will be no limit on security deposits, and the default fees clause is much wider than lost keys and chasing unpaid rent under the Renting Homes (Fees Etc.) (Wales) Act 2019.
The new tenant fees ban legislation permits eight kinds of payment including rent; a security or holding deposit; default payments (when tenants pay their rent late and have to be chased) and also payments for council tax; utilities; television licence and broadband/phone services.
The proposals state that agents are able to charge a tenant for the outstanding rent if they leave a tenancy early – something they can do now – but not for changing a contract at the renter’s request.
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