Do I have to pay fees?
On the 1st June 2019 the Tenant Fee Act 2019 came into force, banning most tenant fees. Since 1st June 2020 this now applies to a landlord or agent with respect of ALL tenancies. They are not able to:
- Require you (or anyone acting on your behalf or guaranteeing your rent) to make certain payments in connection with a tenancy in England.
- Require you to enter a contract with a third party for the provision of a service or for insurance or make a loan in connection with a tenancy.
BANNED payments, include:
- viewing fees
- admin fees
- agency fees
- tenancy set up fees
- check out fees
- inventory fees
- third party fees
PERMITTED payments, are:
- a refundable holding deposit (to reserve a property) capped at no more than one week’s rent. Be careful once you pay this you enter into a contract at this point not when you sign the tenancy agreement.
- the rent.
- a refundable tenancy deposit capped at no more than 5 weeks’ rent if your total annual rent is less than £50K (6 weeks’ rent if total annual rent is more than £50K).
- payments to change the tenancy when requested by the tenant, capped at £50 (incl. VAT), or reasonable costs incurred if higher.
- 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; and
- A default fee for late payment of rent and replacement of a lost key/security device giving access to the property, where required under a tenancy agreement.
If it is not one of the above PERMITTED payments it is not lawful, and a landlord or agent should not ask you to pay it. If a landlord or agent has charged a prohibited payment the government has provided The Tenant Fees Act 2019: Guidance for Tenants on the steps you should follow.
If a landlord or agent requires you to make a payment under a term within a tenancy which was entered into before the ban came into force, such as check-out or renewal fees, they can continue charging those fees until 31st May 2020. After 1 June 2020, the term requiring that payment will no longer be binding. Should you, in error, make such a payment, you should ask the landlord or agent to return the payment immediately. The payment must be returned within 28 days. If they don’t return the payment within 28 days, then they will be treated for the purposes of the Act as having required you to make a prohibited payment.
We advise you to:
- Deal with an agency that has membership of a reputable self-regulatory professional body.
- You should be shown the tenancy agreement before you pay the holding deposit. If not ask for this. Contact the Student Advice Centre for a contract Review appointment before you pay the holding deposit (the adviser will need the contract a minimum of 48 hours before the appointment).
- Do not pay a holding deposit unless you are sure you will want the property as once this is paid you have committed to a legally binding contract.
Additional detail about each of these permitted payments is included in the guidance, if you have any queries about the introduction of the ban and whether this applies to you please make an appointment with the Student Advice Centre. Shelter’s website also has a large amount of information for tenants.
Last updated: 16 November 2020