The new Tenant Fees Act is now in force in England, capping the amount renters can be charged for their deposits and banning letting fees altogether as part of the Government’s bid to reduce hidden costs for tenants.
The Government expects to save tenants across England at least £240m a year through the changes, here’s what the new Act means for renters, landlords and agents. The new law was passed in February this year and the ban on tenant fees came into force on 1 June 2019.
How will the Tenant Fees Act affect landlords and agents?
The legislation places new rules on landlords and agents about what they are allowed to charge tenants.
They will only be able to recover ‘reasonably incurred costs’ and will have to provide evidence of what these costs are before charging their tenants.
The changes will help put an end to the practice by some landlords of overcharging renters for minor damages or presenting them with an exaggerated bill to replace an item, such as a £60 charge for a new smoke alarm.
Any landlords or agents who ignore the ban on letting fees will now face a fine of £5,000, which could increase to £30,000 for repeat offenders or result in a criminal offence.
How will the new bill affect tenants and renters?
The changes are designed to protect private tenants from unexpected and unfair letting fees that can make properties hard to afford.
Renters will no longer need to save more than five weeks’ rent to secure a property and will no longer have to pay letting fees.
Holding deposits will now be capped at one weeks’ rent and tenants will only be charged £50 for a change to a tenancy, unless a landlord can prove the process has cost more than this amount.
The amount of time it takes for landlords and agents to pay back any fees they have charged unlawfully will also be reduced to ensure renters get their money back quickly.
And landlords will not be able to remove tenants from a property using the Section 21 eviction procedure until they have paid back any fees or a holding deposit that renters were charged for unlawfully.
The new act is expected to save private renters up to £70 per household.