Help us fix the Tenant Fees Bill

Over the next few months, the Houses of Parliament will be deliberating on the wording of the Tenant Fees Bill, a hard-won piece of legislation that will ban letting fees. 

There are a few problems with the Bill as it's drafted, and politicians need to hear from renters how the Bill could be a missed opportunity to prevent tenants being ripped-off.

Default fees are one exemption to the ban - letting agents and landlords are permitted to charge fees if a tenant fails to comply with the tenancy agreement. This is supposedly to protect landlords if tenants have to get new keys cut, or if they are late with rent, but landlords and agents are free to define the circumstances when the tenant can be charged. In theory tenants could challenge unfair terms but this relies on the redress system to operate effectively.

The Bill also allows fees for tenants who move out of a home they share and need to find a replacement tenant. 

The Bill limits the amount that can be charged in these cases to the loss incurred by the landlord. The trouble is we know, from experience of the deposit system, that it can be difficult to challenge the landlord's claims, even if their loss sounds exaggerated.

Holding deposits are finally being regulated, but if the tenancy ends up not being agreed the agent or landlord can keep the holding deposit if they claim that the tenant has provided false or misleading information. The Bill is unclear on how the tenant should go about challenging such claims.

These exemptions could be abused by dodgy agents and landlords and see tenants keep getting ripped off, especially if it is difficult to challenge them. We're interested in hearing from you if you have:

  • Wanted to remove unfair terms from a tenancy agreement, and if you managed to do this;
  • Lost your holding deposit due to failing a reference check, and whether you thought this was fair;
  • Raised a complaint about your letting agent with a redress scheme, and what the outcome was;
  • Disputed deductions from your deposit, and what the outcome was; or
  • Any other experiences you think are relevant to the above

Please provide details of your experiences below. We may include your comments anonymously as part of our evidence to the parliamentary committee which is examining the Bill, and at other stages on its legislative journey. 

If you prefer you can contact the MP Bill committee directly here.

Our privacy policy

Showing 9 reactions

  • Matthew Bensted
    commented 2018-05-31 13:34:07 +0100
    Great these fees are being banned but, since they were always unethical, letting agents and landlords should have to pay them back in a manner similar to PPI.

    Also, our agency refuses to do full checks of the property except when it suits them, instead of each time a joint tenant is replaced. This means that since I’ve been here longest I could be held jointly liable for damage that’s been caused by any one of many tenants I’ve shared with over the years, and there will be no clarity about who caused a particular instance of damage if and when they eventually raise something.

    We are currently charged a £250 leaving fee which means we’re only able to leave at one point each year without cost. I sincerely hope this is covered in the ban as it’s immensely limiting and punitive on top of our already bonkers rent (£650 pcm excl. bills for a room in a four-person share, in former social housing—London of course).
  • Hannah lamb Lamb
    commented 2018-05-31 08:08:50 +0100
    Probably not relevant but: We challenged a second rent rise of £25 through a tribunal and won. We were served an eviction notice two days later with no reasons given. We have school age children. This is the only home they have known and we are happy here and good tenants. Tamlyns Bridgwater are our estate agents.
  • jae evans
    commented 2018-05-30 14:35:29 +0100
    My worst experience was with YourMove Agent, in Huddersfield. I had read my rental contract thoroughly, and flagged up point 13 that stated, the Agent ‘recommended’ a particular utility company, one I had never heard of. I queried this and the agent assured me that it was only a recommendation, and that they, had NO financial gain from this what so ever.

    The painful reality, however, was that, although I chose EDF to supply me, this ‘recommended’ utility company highjacked my EDF contract, without my permission or, any contract. Apparently, my signing a rental contract with YourMove was their ‘contract’ with me.

    It then began supplying me with gas and electric – at more expensive rates.

    It took me 7months to get rid of this company. The agent was NO help at all feigning helplessness.

    It was a very, very stressful time and. The utility company proved ‘incontactable’ – did not reply to my e-mails or my letter/calls, the whole episode made me ill. This story later became a national scandal and was within that year flagged up on BBC1 Watchdog prog’.

    I have also had a Landlord who, kept £170 of my diposit saying I had left an iron mark on the carpet when the said burn was on the inventory when I signed for the property.

    DEPOSITS ought to be more flexible and be able to be transferred from property to property. One often has to find hundreds, if not thousands when moving. A Landlord can drag their feet in returning a deposit. Then one must find another deposit to give to the new Landlord/Agent.

    The entire rental market needs urgent reform! It is a shambles and a disgrace.
  • Ben Hills
    commented 2018-05-30 13:29:54 +0100
    Myself and two friends put a substantial holding deposit down to secure a flat in London. One of our group needed a guarantor, his father, to supply additional information to pass the referencing. There was a bit of back and forth, but eventually it was all sorted. The landlord then turned around and said he didn’t want us to be the tenants because of the referencing delay. We were informed of this by the agents on move-in day, leaving us to put all our stuff into storage and rely on sleeping on friends sofas! To cap it all they kept the holding deposit!

    We took them to small claims court a year later and won back our holding deposit, and the agents had to pay fees.

    I can’t help feelings we were the lucky ones.. so many people get screwed!
  • D. Robinson
    commented 2018-05-30 12:24:30 +0100
    I’m a landlord, but I have been a tenant in the past, in Germany.

    This comment isn’t directly to do with your questionnaire, but I feel it’s very important.

    What we really, really need in the UK is a nation-wide agency, funded by both landlords (more) and tenants (less). The agencies are staffed by lawyers who know their way around the issues. Citizens’ Advice won’t cut it.

    Most contact is by email, with telephone backup as required. In-person appointments are rare – this means far, far less time wasted.

    Why is such a scheme not being looked at, which it is so demonstrably successful??
  • Saxon Whittle
    commented 2018-05-30 12:18:50 +0100
    Me and my partner moved into a flat where the stove and carpets had not been cleaned, and you could tell the flat had not been cleaned or decorated prior to the previous tenant.

    What was particularly noticeable was the filth and dirt on/in the stove. When we moved out, the letting agent took photos of scuff marks that were on the walls when we moved in, and also charged us 100 pounds to clean the stove (which we left in the same state it was in when we moved in). A total of 150 pounds. I disputed this figure and got 30 pounds back – which I felt was ludicrous for normal wear and tear after a year, and the state the flat was in when we moved in.
  • Katherine Holley
    commented 2018-05-30 11:49:54 +0100
    I was asked to transfer immediately £500 for a holding deposit on a property, to prove how serious I was, and this was to just make an offer. The owner did not accept our offer, and it took the estate agents one week to give me my money back – given that I had three weeks to find somewhere to live, this presented a problem of not being able to put a holding deposit on another property for one week till I got the money back.
  • James Baker
    @Jam_Bake tweeted link to this page. 2018-05-30 10:49:07 +0100
  • Katie Burton
    commented 2018-05-30 10:12:41 +0100
    Hi, to cut a really long story short we moved in a flat and was told that there was a very very minimal damp problem but after a month the mould and damp was out of control, the letting agent lied to us on many occasions and basically I nearly had a nervous breakdown but when I tried to complain and went through the agents complaint procedure it stopped with them, I could not understand why this is the Letting Agents procedure because they would obviously be biased (especially because we had so many issues with them), how could I complain to them when they were the ones I was complaining about. This was their procedure and maybe this is correct but the amount of stress it caused my family and time as I was emailing the agent every day and he was sending guys round to confirm that the mould was caused by us (just breathing apparently was an issue) he was in league with this guys who were obviously his mates by the way he was talking to them. It basically the most awful housing experience of my life, we left after 4 months but he took £200 pound for mould on the curtains to be replaced even though he had previously promised me that he would not take money for curtains out of my deposit, in hind sight I wish I had recorded him but you tend to believe people like letting agents are honest. NOT ANYMORE!!!!

    This was the letting agents complaints procedure…..

    “We will send you a letter acknowledging receipt of your complaint within five days of receiving it, enclosing a copy of this procedure.

    We will then investigate your complaint. This will normally involve passing your complaint to a partner, who will review your matter file.

    We will then invite you to a meeting to discuss and hopefully resolve your complaint. We will do this within 14 days of sending you the acknowledgement letter.

    Within five days of the meeting, we will write to you to confirm what took place and any solutions we have agreed with you.

    At this stage, if you are still not satisfied, you should contact us again and we will arrange for another partner to review the decision.

    We will write to you within 14 days of receiving your request for a review, confirming our final position on your complaint and explaining our reasons.

    If you are still not satisfied, you can then contact the

    The Property Ombudsman Milford House 43-55 Milford Street, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP1 2BP”