What you can be charged for when renting (and what should be free)

What you can be charged for when renting (and what should be free)
20th November 2023

Since the Tenant Fees Act came into force for new or renewed tenancy agreements signed on or after 1st June 2019, landlords and agents have been banned from charging tenants certain fees related to their tenancy.

Under the Act, tenants cannot be charged for:

  • Viewing fees
  • Tenancy set-up fees, including:
    • referencing
    • credit checks
    • guarantor checks
    • administration
  • Any inventory check carried out on behalf of the landlord
  • A check-out fee
  • Providing a reference for a future private rental
  • End of tenancy cleaning (unless the property was not returned in the same state of cleanliness, in which case, the landlord could make a claim against your deposit)
  • Third-party services, such as gardening and chimney sweeping (unless this is included in your rent payment)

What happens if I am charged for any of these?

If a landlord or agent breaches the ban by requesting you pay any of these fees, they can be fined up to £5,000 for each separate breach. If they had already breached the Act within the previous 5 years of the first, that is a criminal offence, and they can be fined up to £30,000 by the local authority or prosecuted in court.

As the tenant, you are entitled to be repaid the fee, plus any interest the local authority deems appropriate (in line with the Act), and in the meantime you cannot be evicted via a section 21 notice.

If you have been charged a banned fee, write to your landlord or agent asking for it to be repaid. If a landlord refuses or doesn’t respond, you should contact the local authority or Citizens Advice, and if it’s an agent, you can complain to the relevant redress scheme. You could also apply to the First-Tier Tribunal to recover the fee.

But there are a number of different costs that can arise during a tenancy, so what can you legally be asked to pay for as a tenant, in addition to rent?

Permitted charges when you’re renting

  • A refundable tenancy deposit capped at 5 weeks’ rent
    (6 weeks’ rent if the total annual rent is £50,000 or more)
  • A refundable holding deposit/fee capped at 1 week’s rent
  • Charges associated with early termination of the tenancy, if you have requested it 
  • Payments for making changes to the tenancy that you have requested - usually capped at £50, unless it can be shown that a higher charge is reasonable
  • Payments in respect of utilities, internet/phone services, TV licence and Council Tax
  • Default fees for late payment of rent
  • Replacement of a lost key or security access device (where required under a tenancy agreement)

As a basic rule of thumb, if costs have been incurred as a result of your actions during a tenancy, you’re likely to be responsible for covering them.

For more detailed information, see the Government’s document, ‘Tenant Fees Act 2019: Guidance for tenants’, and if you have any questions, feel free to contact your nearest branch.

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