Can letting agents charge tenants fees?

In England:

No, as of 1 June 2019, the Tenant Fees Act bans most fees, including upfront fees to start new tenancies.

The only payments you can be asked for are:

  • Rent
  • Security deposit – capped at 5 weeks' rent
  • Holding deposit to take property off the market – capped at 1 week's rent
  • Early termination payment (i.e. if you decide to leave before the fixed term of your tenancy has ended)
  • Change of sharer fee (the agent needs to prove their costs if they charge more than £50)
  • Charge for lost keys or security device (e.g. electronic fob)
  • Charge for interest on rent payments that are late by 14 or more days

If you entered a tenancy (or licence to occupy) before 1 June 2019 then you are still liable for any charges written into your existing agreement (e.g. renewal or check out fees) until 1 June 2020.

If you renew your tenancy and have paid a deposit worth more than 5 weeks' rent, you are entitled to a refund of the difference.

Government guidance about the ban is available here.

In Scotland:

No. The law on fees was clarified in 2012; Shelter Scotland has more information here.

In Wales:

Yes, but only until the start of the next academic year. The Renting Homes (Fees) (Wales) Act 2019 was passed in May 2019.

In Northern Ireland:

A court case in 2018 cast doubt on the ability of letting agents to charge fees. The Department of Communities has since issued this guidance:

"You are well aware of fees charged by letting agents and may have paid such fees before you became a private tenant. Where the fees cover work done by the letting agents as part of their service to the landlord, such fees may be recovered if you have evidence that you paid such letting or associated fees in the last six years.

"Whilst a recent court case confirms the current law (the Commission on the Disposal of Lands (Northern Ireland) Order 1986) it does not follow that in all circumstances there will be an automatic entitlement to a refund. It is important therefore that anyone who may have been impacted seeks advice. You can visit the Housing Rights website at http://housingrights.org.uk/news/letting-agents-ordered-court-repay-fees-charged-tenants or call the Housing Rights helpline on 028 9024 5640 for more information."

 

Letting agents in England, Scotland and Wales have certain legal obligations. If you know of one that is breaking the law please report them here

 

Updated: 1 June 2019

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