What the Tenant Fees Act 2019 means for advisers
This Act abolished letting fees in England — in this short article we explain how it works
[Extent: England only]
On 1 June 2019 the ban on tenant fees came into force in England.
This is a welcome new protection for private renters — Citizens Advice has been calling for these changes for a decade.
This article lays out the main provisions of the Act, and outlines what it means for tenants.
Who does the Act apply to?
The Act applies to England only. The Renting Homes (Fees etc.) (Wales) Act 2019 will bring in a similar ban in Wales, but doesn’t have an implementation date yet.
The Act applies to all new tenancies (including some renewals) entered into after 1 June 2019. From June 2020, it will also apply to other existing tenancies.
What payments are affected?
Following the introduction of the Tenant Fees Act, the only payments in connection with a tenancy that a tenant can be asked to make are:
- The rent
- A refundable tenancy deposit. These are now capped at 5 weeks’ rent, where the total annual rent is under £50,000. Where it is £50,000 or above, the deposit is capped at 6 weeks’ rent.
- A refundable holding deposit 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
- Those related to early termination of the tenancy, when requested by the tenant
- For utilities, communication services, TV licence and council tax
- A fee for late payment of rent and replacement of a lost key/security device, where required under a tenancy agreement.
Where landlords suffer loss as a result of breach of the tenancy agreement (like if the tenant damages the property), they retain their right to claim common law damages. These are likely to be recovered via the deposit in the first instance, but could give rise to a claim through the county court.
What happens if a prohibited payment is taken?
Landlords who breach the Tenant Fees Act can be reported to Trading Standards, who may take enforcement action. District councils that are not Trading Standards authorities may also enforce if they choose to.
In addition, tenants can apply to the First-tier Tribunal to recover unlawfully charged fees. If the issues relates to a letting agent tenants can also apply to the relevant redress scheme. The landlord will not be able to serve a Section 21 notice until they have returned the prohibited amounts.
Looking for more information?
This article offers a brief outline — but we have lots more resources about the Tenant Fees Act:
- A public blog outlining the answers to some ‘Frequently Answered Questions’
- A briefing for advisers that goes into more detail (for Citizens Advice advisers only)
- Government’s Guidance to the Act
If you come across a case where you’re not sure if the Tenant Fees Act 2019 applies, or if you need guidance on its effect, please submit an enquiry to the Expert Advice online consultancy service (for Citizens Advice advisers only).
Rachael Gore works in the Housing Expert Advice Team at Citizens Advice.