Government acts and legislation can be hard to follow sometimes, they can be full of jargon and quite frankly, some stuff we have no idea what it means. So, that's where we come in, we’re here to try and make it the Tenant Fee Bill seem a bit more understandable for you below, so sit down, put the phone on silent and enjoy the read renters. (Sorry landlords...)
What is the Tenant Fees Bill?
Tenants: Let's get straight to the point...The tenant fees bill is a new legislation which aims to make renting fairer for tenants. The act takes a closer look at all the fees associated with renting a home, most of which are uncapped and unregulated. The aim is to bring the whole process of paying fees when renting a property a bit more under control.
Landlords, it’s not all bad news, there are still things you can do to work with the ban, such as providing an all inclusive service or maximising your landlord relationships.
Fees for starting a tenancy
The introduction of the Tenant Fee Act 2019 means that, letting agents are no longer be able to charge for things like inventory or credit checks, references or guarantor fees. This also applies to administration fees, so landlords, you can no longer charge your tenants for drawing up the contract or renewing the agreement.
Deposits are also getting a bit of a revamp, which is useful as there has been a lot of inconsistency with them over the years. Although deposits are supposed to be refundable, some estate agents have been found to be operating on a non-refundable basis and even worse, sometimes the holding deposit won’t even guarantee your property is held for you. But don't you worry, it’s all changing, and for the better. Holding deposits are now capped at no more than one week’s rent, and if you choose to swipe left on the property after that (turn it down for all you non-Tinder users) then you’re entitled to have that deposit repaid.
You’ve done this before; tenants usually pay a security deposit at the beginning of their tenancies to cover any damage caused to the property going forward once they move in. This will now be capped at 5 weeks rent, so call the bank and tell them that loan is no longer required.
Your deposit will still enter the deposit protection scheme (DPS) to protect you in any given disputes while renting out the property. And, the Bill bans raising the rent during the first part of the tenancy and dropping it down after. Pretty good news, huh?
What can Landlords charge fees for once the act has passed?
Officially there are now only 6 permitted payments that landlords can charge you. They are:
- Refundable holding deposits (1 week)
- Security deposits (5 weeks)
- Tenancy agreement changes (£50)
- Late rent payments or charges for replacing a lost key (We can't help you there)
- Defaulting on rent payments
If they also operate an all-inclusive rental scheme, or one that includes utilities included, they could also charge:
- Utilities and local taxes
- Optional* extras such as cleaners or gardeners
- Earn through acasa
The key word here is OPTIONAL. So long as there is not a requirement for the tenant to pay the fee or use that service then there is no breach of the bill. Landlord and letting agents, take a look at our frequently asked questions for a look at some of the complications around what you can and can't charge.
When did the Tenants Fee Act become law?
The Tenant Fee Bill has been ratified by Parliament and is now live as of 1st of June 2019. So, landlords and letting agents should not be charging you any illegal fees, including admin fees or they are in breach of the legislation.
Ian Austin is partnerships manager at acasa. Combine all your bills easily in one app. No more shopping around or red letters, all your bills are consolidated and managed easily with acasa. Move in, manage and move on, with acasa helping you take care of every aspect of your household bills and finances, at every stage of your property journey.
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