I've been asked to pay a fee

is that allowed?

Answer

Most letting agent fees are unlawful throughout the UK - the rules are set out in each country below.

ENGLAND

As of 1st June 2020, all fees are regulated under the Tenant Fees Act. Your landlord or letting agent can only charge you for the following:

  • Rent
  • Security deposit (this must be protected in a registered scheme) - capped at 5 weeks' rent for most tenancies
  • Holding deposit to take the property off the market - capped at 1 week's rent
  • Ending the tenancy early - limited to the cost to the landlord/agent of starting a new tenancy and rent to that point
  • Change to the tenancy agreement - limited to £50 or the landlord/agent's costs if higher
  • Replacing lost keys and security devices (e.g. electronic fobs)
  • Interest on late rent payments - limited to the Bank of England base rate plus 3% on rent outstanding after 14 days 

Before 1 June 2020, fees were still permitted for tenancies that started before 1 June 2019. Government guidance about the ban is available here.

If you are charged an illegal fee, contact: your local council's Trading Standards team and your agent's redress scheme (either the Property Redress Scheme or the Property Ombudsman) - and let us know here. If you have paid an illegal fee you cannot be evicted under Section 21 as long as the landlord or agent has not paid it back.

SCOTLAND

Fees are banned. The law on fees was clarified in 2012; Shelter Scotland has more information here.

If you are charged an illegal fee, contact: the Letting Agent Register

WALES

No, as of 1 September 2019, the Renting Homes (Fees) (Wales) Act 2019 bans most fees, along similar lines to England's ban.

If you are charged an illegal fee, contact: the RentSmart Register

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."

We want to know how fees bans are working, so if you encounter any letting agents breaking these rules, please report them here.