Tenant Fees Act now in force
The Tenant Fees Act 2019, banning landlords and agents from charging fees to tenants, will come into effect this weekend in England.
The Act means that landlords and agents will no longer be able to charge fees to set up or renew a tenancy in the private rented sector.
The new law doesn’t just mean a ban on letting fees, but also the majority of other upfront fees payable by tenants to rent a property in England.
There is also a cap on the amount of refundable security deposit a tenant is required to pay to the value of five weeks’ rent as a tenancy deposit on annual rents below £50,000, for new and renewed tenancies - six weeks’ rent if the total annual rent is £50,000 or above.
A cap also exists on the amount of holding deposit a tenant will be required to put down to secure a property to the value of one week’s rent.
The government believes that the Bill will make renting properties in England fairer and more affordable for tenants by reducing the costs at the outset of a tenancy, at the same time as improving transparency and competition in the private rental market.
The ban on fees charged by landlords and letting agents in Wales will be introduced in September. From September 1, 2019, agents and landlords in Wales will no longer be able to charge fees to set up, renew or continue a standard occupation contract except those explicitly permitted by the Bill.
Many landlords may not yet be familiar with standard occupation contracts, but they will replace assured short-hold tenancies when the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 is introduced – possibly later this year. The Bill means that it will be illegal for landlords and letting agents to charge anything other than permitted payments, which are: rent, security deposits, holding deposits, utilities, communication services, council tax, green deal charges and default fees.
Under the new Act, holding deposits will be restricted to one week’s rent with provisions that ensure their prompt repayment.