After years of complaints from private tenants in England about unexpected and unfair fees being imposed by agents and landlords, the government are putting in place the Tenant Fees Act 2019 to make things a bit easier [and cheaper] for tenants. Whilst the act was announced and passed in February 2019, we are finally getting full details.
The act is expected to save private tenants in England at least £240m per year. A similar act is already in place in Wales and in Scotland.
The act will come into effect on the first day of June, 2019 but which fees is the act actually tackling? Quite a few, we could divide these into 3 categories:
At the Start of a Tenancy
Letting agents will only be able to charge a maximum of 1 week’s rent to reserve a property of which must be refundable in the event they do not get the property.
Tenants may be charged a maximum of 5 weeks’ worth of rent in the form of a security deposit.
The act will completely ban letting fees payable by the tenant. It has been common practice for letting agents to charge a fee directly to the tenant for arranging the tenancy.
During a Tenancy
A fee for changing a tenancy will be a capped at a £50 per change. This is when tenants are added, changed or taken off a tenancy agreement. Previously agencies would charge high fees mentioned in their small print for administering these changes. With the new act, it states that the fee could still exceed £50 in the event that the agency can prove it has cost them more than that to arrange.
At the End of a Tenancy
Letting agents and landlords will only be able to recover ‘reasonably incurred’ costs when a tenancy ends. The act is set to put an end to the practice inflated prices and exaggerated bills for fixing and replacing simple items in their property.
You can find the full Act on the Parliament’s website.
Landlords and letting agents who ignore the new laws of the Tenant Fees Act 2019, will face a fine of £5000 for a first offence, which could increase to £30,000 for repeat offenders and further criminal prosecution.
Some say these new laws will go far to help protect tenants from so-called slum-landlords and ruthless letting agents. Whilst others believe that this will give too much power to would-be troublesome tenants who will take advantage at their landlord’s expense.
What is your view on the Tenant Fees Act 2019?
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