New Legislation Reduces UK Rental Fees: Up until a few days ago, landlords and letting agents in England could charge renters a number of high administrative rental fees, which for some had added up to hundreds of pounds per year. As of June 1, however, when the much anticipated Tenant Fees Act went into effect, this is no longer the case.
These rental fees had included substantial agent and reference fees, as well as excessive holding and security deposits and excessive charges for a change of tenant or checkouts. Now they’ve been eliminated or capped, reducing the costs tenants can incur at the outset of and during a tenancy, and during the renewal and termination process.
The Act, according to a government press release, “is part of a wider package of reforms by the government aimed at rebalancing the relationship between tenants and landlords to deliver a fairer, better quality and more affordable private rental market.”
Specifically, notes this gov.uk website, the only payments that landlords or letting agents can now charge to tenants for new contracts are the following,
- A refundable tenancy deposit capped at no more than five weeks’ rent where the total annual rent is less than £50,000, or six weeks’ rent where the total annual rent is £50,000 or above
- A refundable holding deposit (to reserve a property) capped at no more than one week’s rent
- Payments associated with early termination of the tenancy, when requested by the tenant
- Payments in respect of utilities, communication services, TV licence, and Council Tax
- A default fee for late payment of rent and replacement of a lost key/security device giving access to the housing, where required under a tenancy agreement
Under the act, states uk.gov, tenants who have been charged unfair fees also have recourse. Landlords and agents can be required by Trading Standards or the First-tier Tribunal agents to pay back, within one to two weeks, any prohibited payment or any unlawfully retained holding deposit.
Not surprisingly, some predict that rents could rise as a result of the Act, although the BBC states that it does prevent landlords from charging a higher rent the first month to make up for the loss of these fees.
On a related note, agents and landlords in Wales will be prohibited from charging for viewings, contract signings, or tenancy renewals as of September 2019 according to thisismoneyco.uk. The site also states that these rental fees have been banned in Scotland since 2012, and that no bans currently exist in Northern Ireland.
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