Is your rented property "fit for human habitation"?
Harriet Allsop | 15.04.2019
13.06.2019 Harriet Allsop
The Tenant Fees Act 2019 (“the Act”) came into force on 1 June 2019.
It applies immediately to tenancies created on or after 1 June 2019 and to all tenancies, whenever granted, from 1 June 2020. For tenancies granted prior to 1 June 2019, a landlord/agent can still charge fees up until 31 May 2020, but only where permitted under an existing tenancy agreement.
A “tenancy” includes an assured shorthold tenancy (AST), tenancies of student accommodation and licences to occupy housing in the private rental sector in England.
Landlords can only require payment if is it on the list of “permitted payments” in the Act. This includes:
Landlords cannot evict tenants via the section 21 procedure unless and until any wrongly charged fees or holding deposits are returned to the tenants.
Each individual request for a prohibited payment is a breach. For example, if the same landlord charged different tenants (under different agreements) prohibited fees at the same time, it would be a multiple breach.
Any landlords / agents who fail to comply may be fined £5,000. If a further breach is committed within 5 years, this will be a criminal offence under the Housing & Planning Act 2016, liable to a banning order and an unlimited fine.
At its discretion, a local authority may impose a fine of up to £30,000 as an alternative to prosecution.
Where there are multiple breaches, the financial penalty for each is limited to up to £5000.
A tenant is entitled to be repaid in full any unlawfully charged fees plus any accrued interest (at the local authority’s discretion).
A tenant can make a claim via the First-tier Tribunal and / or the relevant scheme (if an agent charged the fees).
The hope is that the Act will increase transparency in the private rental market and make the whole process more affordable for tenants.
How we can help
At Moore Blatch our team can assist, whether you are a landlord / agent needing assistance in understanding the new rules, or a tenant if you are looking to take action.