A Landlords’ Guide to the Tenant Fee Ban
Many letting agents are set to increase their fees to Landlords with the implementation of the Tenants Fee Act 2019 (Tenant Fee Ban) from June 1st, 2019, but at Northwood Stoke we are covering these costs.
We understand the pressure landlords are under and have made the decision NOT to increase our fees to landlords following the tenant fee ban. Furthermore, we are offering a switching service for any landlord currently using another agent, that finds their fees have increased.
As a landlord, it’s important to know what the Tenants Fee Act means for you. Our step-by-step guide aims to keep you informed of the changes.
Rent should be paid at regular and specified dates, in equal sums for the first year. Rent can only be increased or decreased if this has been agreed with the tenant after the tenancy has begun or under a rent review in the tenancy agreement. As an example, rent cannot be charged at £700 for month one and £550 for the remainder of the tenancy.
Refundable Tenancy Deposit
A refundable tenancy deposit capped at no more than five weeks’ rent is held as security for any liability arising under or in connection with the tenancy. This deposit must be one, single payment. For example, if two tenants are jointly liable for the total weekly rent of £150, the agent cannot ask each tenant to pay a tenancy deposit of £750.
All deposits taken must be protected in one of the three Government backed tenancy deposit schemes within 30 days of taking the payment.
Refundable Holding Deposit
Landlords and agents can ask a tenant to pay a holding deposit for a property, which can be no more than one week’s rent. This deposit can be held whilst the agent undertakes the relevant checks.
The deposit must be returned when a tenancy agreement has been signed or if the agent decides to pull out of the arrangement with the tenant.
An agent has a right to retain the deposit if the tenant fails a ‘right to rent’ check, withdraws from the application process or if the agents take reasonable steps to enter the tenancy but the tenant does not. If a deposit is retained by the agent, they must write to the tenant within seven days and let the tenant know the reasons they are retaining the deposit. The deposit is not the limit of the amount that can be claimed for issues above fair wear and tear or loss of rent.
Payments In The Event Of A Default
A default fee can be charged under a term of the tenancy agreement for replacing a lost key or other security device to give access to the housing or late payment or rent.
Late Payment of Rent
If a rent payment is more than 14 days late, the agent has the right to charge interest in line with the Bank of England’s base rate plus 3%.
Payments on Assignment, Novation or Variation
If a tenant requests a change to their tenancy agreement, an agent is permitted to charge up to £50 for the amend. If this cost is higher, the agent must be able to demonstrate why the cost exceeds £50.
Early Termination of Tenancy Agreement
If a tenant would like to terminate the tenancy agreement earlier than the signed agreement and leave the property, then the landlord or agent may charge a fee. The costs charged for early termination must not exceed the loss incurred by the landlord (usually the loss in rent resulting from a tenant’s decision to leave and/or the costs of re-advertising or referencing), or the reasonable costs to the agent (such as referencing and marketing costs) rent would only be payable to the point a new tenancy was entered into for the property or the expiry of the existing tenancy whichever is sooner and can only be requested at the existing intervals.
Payments for Utilities
Tenants will remain responsible for paying their bills, which could include council tax, all utility bills and communication services such as broadband, phones and TV license etc. If some of the bills are included in the rent, these bills should be clearly set out under the terms of the tenancy agreement. A tenant cannot be required to pay for these services separately.
If you would like any further information on the tenant fee ban or our free switching service, please contact one of our experts at Northwood Stoke.