Q. I have been told that I can only charge five weeks rent deposit now. But our tenant wants to keep a dog. We always charge a higher deposit to tenants with pets. Can we charge a non-refundable fee instead to deal with the extra cleaning work when the tenant moves out?
A. I am afraid not. ONLY fees which are specifically permitted can be charged and a fee for extra cleaning for pets is not something that is permitted.
However, if the tenancy is ongoing and your tenant wants you to amend it to allow them to keep a pet (assuming that your tenancy agreement currently prohibits pets, as most do) then you can charge a fee of £50 (inclusive of VAT) as your fee for amending the paperwork.
You can also charge a higher rent, to take account of the increased wear and tear. Some landlords, for example, will now have two levels of rent, £X for tenants without a pet and £Y for tenants with a pet. Your permission for allowing the pet can be conditional upon the increase in rent.
Note by the way that you can still charge for any damage done to your property by your tenants’ pet (so long as the tenancy agreement forbids this) – it’s just that you can’t charge any fees. If the deposit is not enough to cover the cost of repairing damage done by a pet, you will still have your remedy to claim the money from the tenant through the Courts.
Q. I understand that the amounts we are allowed to charge for deposits have now changed. What are the new amounts and are there any rules about how we calculate them?