Brighton residential tenancies affected by the Tenant Fees Act 2019The Tenant Fees Act 2019 restricts the ability of landlords and letting agents to charge certain fees to tenants and prospective tenants of assured shorthold tenancies (excluding social housing and long leases) and student accommodation in England. It also applies to residential licences (with limited exceptions).   

The provisions of the Tenant Fees Act 2019 applies to new and renewal leases and licences (excluding periodic tenancies) from 1 June 2019 and from 1 June 2020, they also apply to existing leases and licences.

For security deposits, if the annual rent is less than £50,000, the deposit cannot exceed five weeks’ rent. If the annual rent is £50,000 or more, the cap will be six weeks’ rent. Landlords are prohibited from setting a rent at a higher level for the first part of the tenancy and then reducing it later, in an attempt to recoup costs indirectly. Holding deposits must not exceed one week’s rent and must (except in limited circumstances) be fully repaid.

The Act restricts other charges (aside from rent) and these are limited to payments for loss of keys and late payment of rent, for variation, assignment or novation of tenancies, for early termination by the tenant and for council tax, utilities, TV licences and communication services. There are restrictions on the amounts that may be charged in some cases by limiting fees to the reasonable costs incurred by the landlord or letting agent.

A tenant or licensee will not be bound by terms which breach these provisions and the offending party may incur a fine of up to £5,000. If a second breach is committed within five years, a criminal offence is committed and a fine and banning order may be imposed. Alternatively, the enforcing authority may impose a civil penalty of up to £30,000. Tenants and licensees can recover money wrongly paid and landlords will be unable to serve section 21 notices to terminate tenancies whilst holding prohibited payments. Trading standards authorities and district councils will enforce the provisions.

The Act extends the duties of letting agents to online property portals. In addition, responsibility for enforcing mandatory client money protection scheme membership will move to trading standards authorities.

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