Everything You Need To Know About The Tenant Fees Act 2019
You have just found the perfect property for you and now you have to pay the deposit, one month's rent and ‘referencing fees before you are given the keys. Not anymore, on Saturday, June 1st 2019 the law surrounding what tenants can be charged for when starting a tenancy changed. The Tenant Fees Act will apply to all tenancies from now on meaning that the landlord and the letting agents will be banned from charging any tenant fees such as inventory checks, referencing, credit checks and more. As well as all of this tenancy deposits have been capped to five weeks. All of these changes could save tenants hundreds of pounds.
What Were The Fees For?
Letting Fees usually cover a range of different services, these generally include arranging a guarantor form, credit checks, reference checks, inventory and having the house cleaned before moving in. The fees also include drawing up the official contract between the landlord and tenant. One of the key arguments to the tenant fees debate was that the fees were paid by the tenant but they are not actually for the tenant. After two years of debate, it was agreed that the fees would be abolished.
Which Fees Are Now Banned?
For tenants, the law is very helpful and will save them a lot of money. Now the tenant only will have to pay the monthly rent and a protected deposit to put down home and pay absolutely nothing to take it off the market. Whilst you may be thinking, “ Can’t the landlord just put up the first month's rent to cover the costs?” The law ensures that this is not possible. However, they are able to raise the rent for the duration of the tenancy to cover any costs.
Put simply, any fee that is in the tenancy agreement will be void. An example of banned fees includes; charging for a guarantor form, credit checks, inventories, cleaning services, references, administration charges and gardening services.
What Type Of Tenancy Does The Act Apply To?
Assured Shorthold Tenancies
What Might I Have To Pay?
For properties in England, The Tenant Fee Act 2019 means that in addition to rent letting agents can only charge tenants for the following payments:
Payments to change the tenancy
Payment for early tenancy termination
Interest payments for late payments of rent
Reasonable costs for replacement of lost key
The act also states that estate agents and landlords do not have to return any money they have charged a tenant before June 1st 2019.
Restrictions On Holding Deposits & Deposits
The holding deposit is taken before the tenancy is granted, whilst the pre-contract checks are made ie: references. This holding deposit will be limited to one week’s rent maximum and this must be refunded where a tenant later enters into a tenancy agreement. The deposit must also be returned if the tenant does not go ahead with the tenancy if the tenant is not at fault.
In regard to restrictions on deposits, for annual rent below £50,000, this will be limited to five weeks rent and for annual rent above £50,000, the deposit will be limited to six weeks rent.
Breaching The Act
If a free is charged wrongly, this can be recovered for a tenant via the County Court System. The first offence can carry a £5,000 penalty and the second offence if within five years can carry a £30,000 penalty.
Castles Estate Agents
The Castles Estate Agent’s team are here to help. We are here to advise you on the action you need to take to comply with the Tenant Fees Act 2019. If you are thinking about selling or renting your property or if you are looking to buy or rent a property and would like to find out how Castles Estate Agents can assist you please contact us today on 01793611677 for more information.