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Call of the Week: Fee ban and tenants who are not moving in until September

Call of the week

The Tenant Fees Act will come into force in England on the 1st June 2019, and with this date fast approaching our Landlord Advice Team have been taking a number of calls from landlords about the new legislation.

The Act will ban the majority of fees which may previously have been charged by landlords and letting agents to their tenants, and it will also introduce some restrictions on fees that can be charged. This will include introducing a cap on the amount of deposit which can be taken to 5 weeks, for tenancies under £50,000 per annum.

This week a member called the advice team for assistance with setting up some tenancies, which were due to begin after the legislation comes into force as the tenants are student tenants.

The tenancies were being agreed and signed up to by the potential tenants in the next couple of days, and the landlord wanted to know whether the Tenant Fees Act would apply to them given that the tenants were not moving in to the property until September.

Our advice

We advised our member that they are able to still use our current documents, and are within their rights to continue to charge fees so long as the tenancy agreement is signed up to before the ban comes into force on the 1st June, because the legislation only applies to new and renewal tenancies which are agreed from 1st June 2019.

This will be the case until the 1st June 2020, when the legislation will then apply retrospectively to all tenancies, and regardless of commencement date the fees are prohibited.

Once the legislation applies to all tenancies from next year, we suggest to then sign these tenants up to a newer, compliant tenancy agreement. The ASTs on the RLA’s website have been updated and are now compliant with the upcoming tenant fee ban.

From this date we also advise to ensure that no fees are requested and if any are paid regardless of making any request or not, that they are returned to the tenant within 28 days of receiving the fee. Otherwise the landlord could be open to fines for taking a prohibited payment.

Therefore, so long as our member signed up the tenancy in the next few days with a later start date, then they shouldn’t have an issue with being able to use our current documents and include and charge fees.

If, however, there were any delays and the agreement was to be signed on or after the 1st June 2019, then our member must make sure they have used our updated tenancy agreement and associated documents.

Rupinder Aujla, LAT Team Manager, said “It is important that we are able to advise our members on the upcoming legislative changes so that our members can be as prepared as possible to move forward and deal with any new requirements which are introduced. The advice team are always on hand to help our members understand their obligations and how best to stay within the law.”

Learn more about the upcoming tenant fee ban

  • To understand more about the tenant fee ban in England, including a list of fees that will be allowed an which tenancies it will apply to on 1st June 2019, read the RLA’s Tenant Fees Act guide here.
  • Calculate how much deposit you will be able to take once the fee ban is in force for new tenancies by using a deposit calculator tool, developed by the Tenancy Deposit Scheme.
  • Are you a landlord with a property in Wales? Please note that the Tenant Fees Act applies to England only. Fees are also set to be banned in Wales, with the Renting Homes (Fees etc.) (Wales) Bill becoming an Act of the Assembly in May. Fees are due to be banned in Wales from 1st September.
  • Do you have a specific question about the tenant fee ban? Remember just like this member, RLA members can give our Landlord Advice Team a call or drop them an email during working hours. Contact our advice team today.

About the author

Landlord Advice Team

Landlord Advice Team

On-demand phone support from the RLA Landlord Advice Team is a big feature of RLA membership and is seen by many of our members as the most important service we offer. You can call the Landlord Advice Team in total confidence and be assured that the advice you'll receive is friendly, pertinent, up-to-date and practical.

Access to the RLA's Landlord Advice Team is FREE for all RLA Members.

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