Ban on private renter fees comes into force

keys to home

Landlords and agents face £5,000 fines for charging tenants admin costs

The days of add-on fees for tenants in the private sector are coming to an end. From Saturday, charges for things like credit checks, guarantor forms, professional cleaning and gardening services will be banned.

Landlords and letting agents found charging tenants these fees face fines of up to £5,000 and a criminal record.

Tenants in the private sector are regularly hit by extra costs on top of their rent and deposits, sometimes totalling more than £1,000, every time they move into a property. But the Tenant Fees Act 2019 will restrict charges and cap deposits in a bid to stop tenants being ripped off.

Tenant charges are now restricted to:

  • Rent
  • A refundable deposit – capped to 5 weeks’ rent when annual rent is below £50,000; or 6 weeks if annual rent exceeds £50,000
  • Refundable holding deposit (to reserve a property), not exceeding 1 week’s rent
  • Payments to change the tenancy when requested by the tenant. This is capped at £50, or reasonable costs incurred if higher.
  • Payments associated with early termination of the tenancy – when requested by the tenant.
  • Payments in respect of utilities, communication services, TV Licence and council tax
  • Payment in the event of default – for late payment of rent and replacement of lost key/security device, provided the tenancy agreement requires such a payment to be made. Conditions apply.

Cllr Phillip O’Dell, cabinet member for housing, said: “These new laws are long overdue. Private sector renters have been ripped off for years with fees for services that should be free. It’s time letting agents realised they cannot treat their tenants as cash cows.”

Common fees currently faced by tenants that will be banned from June include:

  • Guarantor form fees
  • Credit checks
  • Inventories
  • References
  • Professional cleaning
  • Flea treatment as a condition of allowing pets
  • Admin fees
  • Gardening services

Late payment fees may only be applied when rent is 14 days overdue and will be capped at 3% above the Bank of England’s base interest rate.

Landlords who repeatedly break the new rules face penalties of up to £30,000.

The ban applies to all assured shorthold tenancies.

The government has published guidance to help landlords and letting agents comply with the new laws. Find out more.

If you find your landlord or letting agent in breach of this, you can complain to Trading Standards who will be enforcing this.