The government introduced The Tenant Fees Act in 2019 with the aim of making residential letting more affordable for tenants. This bans letting fees paid by tenants on housing in England.
The only payments landlords or letting agents are permitted to charge tenants are:
- A refundable tenancy deposit of no more than five weeks' rent where the total annual rent is less than £50,000, or six weeks rent where the total annual rent is £50,000 or above.
- A refundable holding deposit of no more than one week's rent
- Payments associated with early termination of a tenancy, when requested by the tenant
- Variation, assignment and novation of a tenancy costs of no more than £50
- Utility payments
- Default fee for late payment of rent or replacing lost key/security devices
In securing a tenancy a tenant must hand over to the letting agent or landlord a deposit, typically the value of four to six week's rent. The reason for having a deposit is to cover any damage to the property during the tenancy. A deposit can be a key area of contention, with some landlords in the past withholding a deposit for no reason or paying it back some months after a tenancy has ended. Arguments over damage can arise. The best way of avoiding problems is to carefully go through the inventory of a property with the landlord or agent, pointing out any damage or problems before you move in. A deposit is not designed to be set against the last rental payment. Disputes surrounding deposits in recent years have been minimised through the creation of tenancy deposit schemes.