a new law is about to make renting in the uk considerably cheaper

Say goodbye to sky-high letting fees from the 1st of June.

by Moya Lothian-McLean
13 May 2019, 1:42pm

Still from Trainspotting (1996)

There’s so much to detest about the current rental market in the UK: Awful flats not fit for human habitation, sky-rocketing rents and a lack of accountability for rogue landlords has left renters in a rubbish situation. But from the 1st of June 2019, the initial cost of renting is at least about to get cheaper as a new law -- called The Tenants Fee Act -- bans letting agents from charging prospective tenants huge fees.

Finally those privately renting can say sayonara to extortionate “admin” fees like charges to renew tenancies, check references and credit checks. Renters can usually expect to pay £350 for reference and credit checks, say Citizens Advice.

Thanks to the Tenants Fee Act, passed into law in February 2019, the only costs landlords and letting agents can now wring out of their tenants are for rent, utility bills and deposits, along with a few provisions made for any changes to the tenancy agreement -- although these charges will be capped at £50, and all fees have to be made transparent upfront.

Holding deposits, paid to secure the property while contracts are being signed, can now only be equivalent to one week’s rent, while security deposits are capped at 5 weeks rent. Landlords and letting agents who breach the new regulations face a £5,000 fine for a first-time offence, a figure that rises with subsequent infractions.

The legislation is part of an effort to clean up a rental market that’s boomed as a social housing shortage pushes people into the arms of private landlords, with an extra 560,000 households expected to be locked into private tenancies by 2023.

In April, there was rejoicing as plans were announced to ban Section 21 notices, aka ‘no-fault’ evictions that allow landlords to kick tenants out with only two months’ notice.

However, experts warn that as the prohibition on letting fees comes into effect, agents and landlords may scramble to scrape back lost profits in higher rents and by introducing brand new fees, not covered by the existing legislation. Essentially: where renting is concerned, even when the people win, they lose.

There’s more information about your new rights as a tenant here.

London Rental Opportunity of the Week
The Tenants Fee Act
section 21