The Costs of Renting: Letting Agents And The New Tenancy Fees Act

Whenever you find a property to rent, you have to make some payments before you can move in. However, the new Tenancy Fees Act 2019 means that, if you rent via a Lettings Agency, there are some payments you do not now have to pay.

You usually have to pay one month’s rent in advance and a tenancy deposit. If you rent from a letting agent they’ll also usually ask you to pay a holding deposit – see below.

Ask about all payments before taking a property, so you don’t have to deal with any unexpected costs and get a receipt from your landlord or letting agent when you pay any money – you’ll need this in case there are any problems.

Paying a tenancy deposit 

Your tenancy deposit will usually be the same amount as 4 or 5 weeks rent. If you agreed your tenancy on or after 1 June 2019, it’s now illegal for your landlord to force you to pay a deposit of more than 5 weeks rent (or 6 weeks rent if your annual rent is more than £50,000).

The holding deposit

You might also need to pay a ‘holding deposit’ while your letting agent checks your references – this can be up to 1 weeks rent. Paying a holding deposit means your letting agent can’t rent the property to anyone else. Make sure your landlord gives you details of your holding deposit in writing.

Extra costs if you’re renting from a letting agent

You’II probably have extra payments to make before moving into a property if you rent from a letting agent. Be aware of what the agent can and can’t charge for.

If you agree to start a tenancy on or after 1 June 2019, lettings agents can charge you for:

  • rent or utility bills
  • a damage deposit
  • a holding deposit
  • replacing your key
  • paying your rent 14 days late or more
  • changing the tenancy (only if you asked for the change)
  • ending the tenancy early
  • council tax
  • a TV licence

However, with the new Tenancy Fees Act, your letting agency cannot now charge you for:

  • viewing fees — you can’t be charged for looking around a property.
  • fees to set up a tenancy — all fees associated with setting up a tenancy are banned (this includes referencing and guarantor fees, inventory check, credit checks and administration fees).
  • check-out fees — you can’t be charged for leaving a tenancy agreement, or for having the property professionally cleaned.
  • third party fees — you can’t be charged for using third parties for services such as reference checks or credit checks.

I think I’m being charged a fee that’s been banned — what do I do?

If you think you’re being charged a fee that you shouldn’t have to pay, we recommend you seek advice. However, we strongly advise that you don’t withhold rent from your landlord or letting agent, as this would place you at risk of eviction.

Be careful making payments

Remember, you should never make payments if you haven’t seen the property and make sure you get your landlord’s or letting agent’s name and contact details before you pay any money. They have to give you their details if you ask for them. Also, be sure to take receipts for any payments you make.

For further information on what you can and cannot be charged for visit any of the following:

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/housing/renting-privately/private-renting/how-much-it-costs-to-rent/

https://england.shelter.org.uk/housing_advice/private_renting/letting_agent_fees_for_tenants

https://medium.com/adviser/what-the-tenant-fees-act-2019-means-for-advisers-b24493c82325

or call the Citizens Advice national ‘adviceline’ on 03444 111 444, or drop into your nearest local Citizens Advice office.

Our thanks to Coventry Citizens Advice (CCA) for submitting this article to us. For more information, contact your local CA offices or visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk.