You might have heard people talking about the Tenant Fees Act recently – it’s a new act that bans letting agencies from charging tenants fees when they are renting a property. But what exactly does the act cover, and what does it mean for landlords? We’re here to give you the lowdown.
What is the act?
The Tenant Fees Act came into force on 1st June 2019, with the purpose of ‘ban[ning] most letting fees and cap[ping] tenancy deposits paid by tenants in the private rented sector in England.’ The act was introduced as a way to protect tenants from being charged unnecessarily high letting agency fees, and to make the costs of renting clearer from the start. The act applies to all rental contracts signed on or after 1st June, whether it is a new contract or a renewal of a pre-existing one.
What does it cover?
The Tenant Fees Act covers many of the fees that are charged to tenants by letting agencies during the rental process – for example, fees for administration, making an inventory, following up references and renewing contracts. Often these fees are not mentioned upfront when the rental property is advertised, and are only added on later, so the ‘hidden’ cost of renting climbs as tenants go through the process. This is what the act is designed to prevent.
Under the new legislation, landlords and letting agents are now only able to charge tenants:
- a tenancy deposit, which is refundable and capped at 5 weeks’ rent (where the annual rent is <£50,000), or 6 weeks’ rent (where the annual rent is £50,000+).
- a holding deposit, which is refundable and capped at 1 week’s rent
- a fee if the tenant asks to end the tenancy early
- payments for utilities/phone line/internet, TV licence and council tax
- a fee for late rent or lost keys
What does it mean for landlords?
According to government guidelines, landlords will now have to pay letting agency fees. The idea is that these fees will become more competitive as a result, because agencies will have a vested interest in appealing to landlords to get their business. So, as a landlord, next time you’re letting out a rental property, you may have to factor agency fees into your budget. It may also benefit you to shop around to find the best deal.
Whether the new act succeeds in its aims, and how it will affect other parties such as landlords and letting agencies, remains to be seen, but many have praised the new rules and hope that they will help to create a fairer and more competitive market for everyone.
Click here to read the government’s complete guidance for landlords about the Tenant Fees Act.
Cover photo by Helloquence on Unsplash