The Tenant Fees Act came into force on Saturday 1 June 2019. The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government claims that the new Act will save renters across England £240m a year, or up to £70 per household. The legislative changes means that tenancy deposits are now capped at five weeks’ rent and landlords and estate agents are banned from charging unnecessary fees.
Communities Secretary James Brokenshire MP said: “Tenants will no longer be stung by unreasonable costs from agents or landlords, thanks to the implementation of the Tenant Fees Act. This Act bans unnecessary letting fees and caps the majority of deposits at 5 weeks’ rent – helping renters keep more of their hard-earned cash. Alongside our recent announcement to scrap no fault evictions in the sector, this will make renting fairer and more transparent – creating a housing market that works for everyone.
“This Act also puts a stop to tenants being charged hundreds of pounds for admin or renewal fees. In addition, under the Act’s default fee provision, landlords and agents are only able to recover reasonably incurred costs from tenants for lost keys or other security devices and must provide evidence of these costs before they can impose any charges. They may also charge a default fee in relation to late rent.
“The Act ensures that tenants who have been charged unfair fees can get their money back. Trading Standards or the First-tier Tribunal can require landlords and agents to pay back any prohibited payment or any unlawfully retained holding deposit within 7 to 14 days. Taken together, these provisions help reduce the costs that tenants can face at the outset of, during, the renewal of and termination of a tenancy.”
Brokenshire added: “The Act is part of a wider package of reforms by the government aimed at rebalancing the relationship between tenants and landlords to deliver a fairer, better quality and more affordable private rental market. In April this year, we announced plans to stop private landlords from evicting tenants from their homes at short notice and without good reason. We are due to consult on new legislation to abolish Section 21 evictions, bringing an end to private landlords uprooting tenants from their homes with as little as 8 weeks’ notice.
“In addition to this, we have introduced a range of powers for local authorities to enable them to crack down on the small minority of rogue landlords and agents who let unfit properties. This includes fixed financial penalties of up to £30,000 and banning orders – possibly for life – for the most serious offenders.