03 June 2020
Top 10 things you should know about the Tenant Fees Act 2019
- The Tenant Fees Act (TFA) came into force in England on 1 June 2019 and applied to new or renewed tenancy agreements signed on or after 1 June 2019.
- It bans landlords and agents from charging fees to tenants other than those expressly permitted.
- It applies to assured shorthold tenancies granted by private landlords, licence agreements and tenancies of student accommodation. The TFA does NOT apply to social housing tenants or leases with a term of longer than 21 years.
- As of 1 June 2020, it also applies to all private assured shorthold tenancies even those entered into pre-June 2019. (There will still be some differences in how the various rules apply depending on when the payment was taken / tenancy signed).
- What a landlord can charge:
- rent and a tenancy deposit (maximum five weeks’ rent or six weeks’ if the rent is above £50,000 per annum);
- a holding deposit of up to one weeks’ rent;
- reimbursement of bills (utilities, council tax, internet fees, TV Licence fee) if costs are reasonable;
- payment on certain default events for example late payment of rent, lost key replacement, breach of the tenancy if this is set out in the tenancy agreement;
- early termination of tenancy fee; and
- capped costs (£50) to cover a request from a tenant for assignment, variation, surrender etc.
- Should a landlord charge a fee that is not permitted, they will not be able to serve a valid section 21 notice and evict their tenant until the unlawful payment has been repaid (or, with the tenant’s consent, credited to their rent account or deposit).
- The court form N5B Claim form for seeking possession using the accelerated procedure has been amended to include a number of questions relating to the Act.
- A breach of the legislation will usually be a civil offence with a financial penalty of up to £5,000, but if a further breach is committed within five years this will be a criminal offence. The penalty for the criminal offence, which is a banning order offence under the Housing and Planning Act 2016, is an unlimited fine.
- Where an offence is committed, local authorities may impose a financial penalty of up to £30,000 as an alternative to prosecution. In such a case, local authorities will have discretion whether to prosecute or impose a financial penalty.
- A tenant can also bring a claim against their landlord to recover unlawfully charged fees.