The ‘Tenant Fees Act’ of 2019 placed legal restrictions on the tenancy fees that landlords and letting agents can charge. Under the legislation, property owners and managers can only charge tenants for a small number of specific services. In most cases, it also limits how much tenants can be made to pay. We’ve outlined what your letting agent, estate agent or landlord can and can’t charge you for below, as well as links to the full text of the law for each member country of the UK.
What can my letting agency charge me for?
The law states that your landlord, estate agent or letting agent can only require you to pay the following costs:
– The rent
– Payments for utilities, communication services, and council tax at the property.
(They can require you to pay the TV licence only if you will actually be watching live TV or iPlayer at the property )
– A refundable deposit of five weeks’ rent or six weeks’ rent if the annual rent is above £50,000
– A refundable holding deposit to secure the property of a maximum of one week’s rent
– Charges for changes to the tenancy agreement if this is requested by the tenant, capped at £50 or reasonable costs incurred if these are higher
– Payments for early termination of the tenancy if this is requested by the tenant
– Default fees for late payment of the rent
– Payments for any lost keys or security devices.
(The payment should be for a replacement at ‘reasonable costs’ and your agent or landlord is required to show evidence of their costs.)
There’s currently no limit on how much rent in advance your landlord can request. Any rent you pay in advance must immediately be applied against your monthly rent, however. For example, your landlord can’t hide requiring a bigger deposit by calling it advance rent.
What tenancy fees and charges are illegal?
The short answer – anything else.
If it isn’t one of the permitted items above, your landlord or agent cannot require you to pay any other fees to move into your new property. Prior to the law change, agents would often charge tenancy fees for services like:
– Completing credit or immigration checks
– Checking tenant’s references
– Miscellaneous ‘admin’ fees
– Renewing a tenancy with no changes to the contract
– Making changes to the tenancy that the owner or agent has requested
– Large deposits of more than six weeks and non-refundable holding charges
It is now illegal for agents to charge tenants for any of these services.
What should I do if my agent tries to charge me extra tenancy fees?
If your agent or landlord tries to charge you an illegal fee there are a few ways to get help.
The first option is to go to Trading Standards. You aren’t able to report your landlord to Trading Standards directly, but the Citizen’s Advice Helpline will be able to assist you with raising a case with them. They can be contacted through their website or by phone on 0808 223 1133.
You can also report your agent to their ‘Letting Agent Redress’ scheme. Redress schemes are independent organisations that help solve disputes between tenants, agents, and landlords. Your agent is required to be a member of a scheme, and must display which redress scheme they have joined clearly on their website and in their communications to you.
If you need help from the redress scheme, you can reach out after you’ve raised the issue with your agent and either eight weeks have passed without solving the issue or you are unhappy with your agent’s proposed solution. You can read more about how to contact the right scheme and what information you will need here.
If either organisation can’t help initially then you can take your agent or landlord to a tier-one property tribunal. The consumer advice helpline will be able to help you arrange this if its needed.
Reassuringly, your landlord can’t use section 21 to evict you if they have charged you any illegal fees or have not protected your deposit properly. The direct quote from the legislation is;
‘A landlord cannot evict you using the section 21 eviction procedure until they have repaid any unlawfully charged fees or returned an unlawfully retained holding deposit.’
Where can I find out more?
You can read the full terms of the ‘Tenant Fees Act 2019’ here. If you live in Wales, you are covered under the very similar ‘Renting Homes (Fees Etc.) (Wales) Act 2019‘ and properties in Scotland are covered by the ‘Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016‘ . The law regarding properties in Northern Ireland is also slightly different, but you have similar protection from fees for work that benefits the landlord. You can read more about tenancy fees in Northern Ireland here.
If you live in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland then the Citizen’s advice bureau has a regional team that will be able to help you with any issues.
Read more about moving in the UK: