Tenant fees ban 2019: how do recent changes to the Tenancy Act affect us renting our first flat and do we have to pay any charges?

Question: My boyfriend and I are about to rent our first flat and friends have told us that now June 1 has passed, we’ll be saving money as we will not have to pay so much in tenancy fees. What are tenancy fees, anyway?

Answer: Landlords and letting agents were able to charge tenancy or letting fees until June 1.

These admin fees varied significantly and could be for checking references, carrying out credit checks, preparing the tenancy agreement, and so on.

The average letting fee was about £400, and often more.

But since June 1 this year, tenants in England can no longer be charged these fees.

The ban applies to all assured shorthold tenancies, which you will likely have.

Since June 1, the only payments your landlord or letting agent can request from you are: the rent; a refundable deposit capped at five weeks’ rent if your annual rent is below £50,000; a refundable holding deposit capped at one week’s rent; utilities and council tax if included in your tenancy agreement; a charge for changing the tenancy or terminating it early if you request it, and a charge for default by you, for example, late payment of rent.

If your landlord or letting agent charges you any other fees they could be fined £5,000.

These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor.

If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, email legalsolutions@standard.co.uk or write to Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, W8 5EE. Questions cannot be answered individually, but we will try to feature them here.

Fiona McNulty is a solicitor specialising in residential property.

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