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From 1 June 2019, the Government introduced the Tenant Fees Act 2019. The Act bans most letting fees and caps deposits that can be paid by tenants renting in the private sector. 

This includes you if you’re:

  • an Assured Shorthold Tenant,
  • a student renting a room on a licence (including from your university),
  • or a lodger sharing accommodation with a private landlord.

You can no longer be charged for things like references/credit checks, administration and check-ins when renting a property. This includes if you renew your tenancy for a new fixed term.

From 1 June 2019, this applied to new tenancies only, but from 1 June 2020 this applies to existing tenancies as well. This means any terms in your contract requiring banned fees are not effective anymore.

 

What you can still be charged for:

  • Rent
  • A refundable tenancy deposit, capped at no more than five weeks’ rent where the total annual rent is less than £50,000, or six weeks’ rent where the total annual rent is £50,000 or above
  • A refundable holding deposit (to reserve a property), capped at no more than one week’s rent
  • Payments associated with ending your tenancy early (where allowed by your landlord), when requested by the tenant. This shouldn’t be any more than what the landlord has lost out on because of ending the tenancy early – for example advertising costs, rent until they find a new tenant
  • Payments associated with amending your tenancy, including swapping tenants (where allowed by your landlord). Capped at £50 unless the landlord can show greater costs
  • Payments for utilities, communication services, TV Licence and Council Tax
  • Fees for late payment of rent, once 14 days late, and this is limited to interest at 3% above the Bank of England base rate
  • Fees for replacement of a lost key/security device giving access to the housing – the landlord must only charge what it costs them

What you can’t be charged for:

Any fee not listed above isn’t allowed.

The new law even says landlords can’t charge you more rent in the first months of a tenancy only, to make up any money lost in fees. However there’s no regulation of the amount of rent a landlord can charge you in general, so you should look around for the best deal.

What your landlord or letting agent should do with your holding deposit:

The new law also gives more details about how landlords and letting agents should deal with holding deposits they take from you, so it goes further than just regulating the amount that be charged.

This includes only keeping it for specific reasons, and telling you why they’re keeping it.

What if things go wrong?

If your landlord or letting agent charges fees which aren’t allowed, there are protections available. For example, your landlord isn’t allowed to serve you notice to leave the property for no reason (called a Section 21 eviction). They can still try to evict you if you’ve broken the agreement, for example not paying rent or causing damage.

Landlords and letting agents can be fined and banned from renting property in some cases. There are also ways tenants can try to get fees back that shouldn’t have been charged in the first place.

 

Need more information?

The housing charity Shelter have some more useful information on fees, and how your holding and tenancy deposits should be handled. They also tell you how you can deal with any problems that come up.