New Guidance on Lettings Fee Ban

The ban will be introduced on 1st of June this year and all new tenancies cannot have any fees applied, however, existing fees can still be charged until 1st June 2020.

The government says the Act aims “to reduce the costs that tenants can face at the outset, and throughout a tenancy, and is part of a wider package of measures aimed at rebalancing the relationship between tenants and landlords to deliver a fairer, good quality and more affordable private rented sector.”

This means that the agent can still charge tenancy renewal fees on existing contracts with existing tenants until 1st June 2020.

Fees that can be charged after 1st June 2019 are as follows:

  • the rent;
  • a refundable tenancy deposit capped at no more than five weeks’ rent where the 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 to change the tenancy when requested by the tenant, capped at £50, 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, where required under a tenancy agreement.

The guidance also reiterates that policing of the ban will partly be conducted by Citizens Advice.

It states: “If the fee you are charging is not on this list, it is a prohibited payment and you should not charge it. A prohibited payment is a payment outlawed under the ban. If you are uncertain as to whether a charge is permitted, you should consider contacting Citizens Advice or obtaining legal advice. You could contact your local trading standards authority or the lead enforcement authority.”

The guidance also says: “You cannot evict a tenant using the section 21 eviction procedure until you have repaid any unlawfully charged fees or returned an unlawfully retained holding deposit. All other rules around the application of the section 21 evictions procedure will continue to apply.”

All good agents should ensure that this guidance is given to their tenants when taking on a new tenancy. We will be!

And in other news Romeo, once known as the world’s loneliest frog, living in a remote Bolivian cloud forest, has finally found his Juliet after 10 long years as a bachelor! He was thought to be the last of the Sehuencas water frogs, until scientists found him a partner on expedition. Once both creatures were cleared of a deadly infectious disease called chytridiomycosis, the pair were introduced.