Rogue landlords have for years charged residential tenants too much for various aspects of a letting, including the deposit, administration fees and even credit reference checking.
However, the Government has confirmed that the Tenant Fees Bill is going to put a cap on tenant deposits. This will be 5 weeks rent if the annual rent is less than £50,000 and 6 weeks rent where it is more.
The new legislation also sets out fees that will be curtailed covering things like references, credit checking, bank transfers and property inspections. It is possible that fees will be limited if existing tenants wish to extend the tenancy.
Parliament summarised the Tenant Fees Bill will:
There are significant fines for breach of the legislation of between £5,000 and £30,000.
Many residential buy-to-let landlords use letting agencies to let their properties for them so as to take away the administrative hassle. There is no reason why this practice should not continue but the question is now; who will be liable for the criminal offence and the fine if the provisions of the legislation are breached?
As agents act for and on behalf of the landlord, it is likely that it will be the landlord who will be responsible for compliance with the legislation. Landlords do therefore need to follow this piece of legislation and check regularly to ensure that they are not in breach either directly, or via their agents.
The Bill has been welcomed as good news so far for both tenants and fair landlords as it will ensure a fair and even playing field in the lettings market for both sides going forward.
UPDATE – FEBRUARY 2019
On 12th February 2019 the Tenant Fees Bill received Royal Assent. The new Act of Parliament will come into effect on 1st June 2019. Official Guidance is expected to be published shortly on how the new regulations are to be implemented. Our Residential Property Litigation team will be monitoring developments in order to provide definitive advice to landlords and tenants on this matter as soon as guidelines are published.
At Pinney Talfourd we offer a variety of services to both landlords and tenants. Contact a member of our Residential Property Litigation team for more information today. This article was written by Stephen Eccles, Partner, and Head of our Residential Property Litigation team at Pinney Talfourd LLP Solicitors. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as of February 2019.