Tenant fees ban is the latest regulation that has made it successfully into the ever changing property industry regulations within UK.
I cannot say its more misery to the landlords if I wear a hat of a responsible citizen, given the tenancy market sure needed a correction.
Having said that, I cannot ignore as a landlord the weakened benefit from buy to let properties due to changed regulations last 2 years.
So here is a view into understanding this a bit better to be able to handle it better from all ends.
Why Tenant Fees Ban?
The ban simply is to help tenants with reduced tenancy costs and visualise in black and white what fees will he/she be paying once signing the tenancy agreement.
The three key drivers that enforced this to be looked at are
- Information Failures: Lack of clear cut information or communication from letting agents or landlords on fees that will be charged to the tenant in the private rented sector.
- Lack Of Competition: Evidence of excessive charging by letting agents and in few cases, double charging both tenants and landlords for the same service provided.
- Affordability: Level of deposits being requested crossing the affordability thresholds within private rented sector.
When Is It Applicable?
The tenant fees ban is applicable to all the new or renewed tenancy agreements signed on or after 1st June, 2019.
As a landlord if your tenancy agreement is signed for 6 months and is up for renewal shortly, you may want to review the situation with your letting agent and reconsider the costs that you may incur.
What Should Tenants Not Be Charged Anymore?
- To view a property
- For credit checks, guarantor checks and any other reference checks
- Letting agent admin charges
- Any renewal fees that’s charged renewing a tenancy
- Cleaning and garden services unless there is a good reason or evidence to do so
What Can Be Charged To Tenants?
- Rent: Goes without saying, that tenant is to pay the rent as usual.
- Tenancy Deposit: A refundable tenancy deposit at no more than 5 weeks rent where the total annual rent is less than £50,000. If the total annual rent is £50,000 or higher, a 6 weeks rent is allowed.
- Holding Deposit: A holding deposit on the property capped at no more than 1 week’s rent to reserve the property. Totally refundable.
- Early Termination: Any early termination charges mentioned in the contract agreement when tenant requests an early exit.
- Contract Updates: An amount capped at £50 or other reasonable amount if higher to request contract updates.
- Utility Bills: All payments related to utilities including TV license, council tax and any communication services.
- Lost Key/Device: Appropriate fee charged should the tenant lose a key or a security device and request replacement. This has to be mentioned within tenancy agreement.
- Late Rental Payment: A default fee for late payment of rent where applicable as agreed and documented within tenancy agreement.
Note: This post is to be taken as a guide on what the tenant fees ban is all about and not to be understood as a formal or legal advice in any way. Your due-diligence is solely your responsibility.
The Benefits Case View Of The Ban
While the benefits to tenants with having a clear and foreseeable view into what he/she will pay for renting out a property, this is not something that a landlord need at this point where the buck stops.
The logical directive is clear that the party that contracts the service has to bear the cost for the service.
The landlord will be responsible to pay for the lettings service.
The loose end appears where there is no restriction on rent that can be levied on the tenant.
This may lead to rent increases partially undermining the full benefit.
The other intention of the benefit with such a ban is to make the letting agents compete for the landlords business.
Needless to say this will push letting agents to innovate to deliver value services at reduced cost.
Online letting agencies / matured letting systems as an example will probably take their flight sooner than later.
Tenants have a fair view into what they pay and makes it affordable to move homes when required.
A study states that only 50% of tenants actually can identify what charges they are supposed to pay as part of their tenancy agreement.
Given this situation, it just makes it easier for both tenants and landlords understand on what they are paying to letting agents as part of the tenancy.