Tenant Fees Act 2019

The Government continues its squeeze on private landlords in June when the Tenant Fees Act 2019 comes in. This outlaws any payments demanded by a landlord of residential premises that are not specifically listed in the Act and is both novel and punitive in its approach.

Landlords must check their standard agreements to check that they are compliant.

From 1 June it will no longer be lawful in agreements concluded from this date to charge tenancy renewal fees, credit check fees, fees for obtaining references, preparing inventories, professional cleaning charges at the end of tenancy, set up fees for the tenancy or guarantor fees. Another familiar sanction that is imposed is the inability to serve a Section 21 Notice for an assured shorthold tenancy so that the landlord is prevented from recovering possession from tenants except where they have repaid any fees or deposits made unlawful under the Act.

Although existing tenancies are unaffected for the time being, landlords need to be prepared to change the provisions in existing tenancies should they not be compliant with the new rules before 1 June 2020:

The list of lawful charges includes:

  • Rent
  • Defaults by the tenant
  • Up to 6 weeks refundable deposit
  • Changes to the tenancy requested by the tenant (capped at £50 or reasonable costs)
  • A refundable holding deposit to reserve the property (capped at one week’s rent)
  • Utilities and council tax where that is provided for in the tenancy agreement

For landlords who do not comply there will be civil charges through the local council or health and safety executive of up to £5,000 for a first offence rising to unlimited fines for further offending.

Dermott Thomas is a partner and specialist litigator/advocate at Barker Gotelee, Ipswich solicitors

For more information on our range of legal services, please call the team on 01473 611211 or email bg@barkergotelee.co.uk