Guidance for Landlords – The Tenant Fees Act

You may be aware that on 1 June 2019 the Tenant Fees Act (TFA) will become law, resulting in a wide range of services that landlords and lettings agents may have previously charged to tenants becoming unlawful when entering into an Assured Shorthold tenancy.

This will result in the lettings market seeing some fundamental changes meaning that landlords and lettings agents will need to adapt.

Since the TFA was first announced at the end of November 2016, Countrywide and associated brands have taken a proactive stance on this, working with ARLA, NALS and The Lettings Industry Council, and also meeting with representatives from Government and the MHCLG. In addition, we have responded to all Government consultations and calls for evidence to ensure that our views are heard.

We have undertaken a considerable amount of work to prepare us for the future. In addition to reviewing our lettings proposition, we have been adopting a number of new technologies and introduced additional services, some of which you may already be aware.

What does this mean for new tenancies commenced after 1st June 2019?

  • If the rental income is under £50,000 per annum and will be an assured shorthold tenancy then the dilapidations deposit is to be capped at 5 weeks rent.
  • If the rental income is £50,000 or over per annum the deposit will be capped at 6 weeks rent
  • Where previously we have been able to accept higher deposits in instances where tenants wish to have a pet in the property this will no longer be the case.
  • No additional charges or fees can be paid by a tenant for any additional services such as regular cleaning or gardening.
  • Tenants cannot be asked to cover the cost of their credit, reference check.
  • Tenants can no longer be expected to pay for either an inventory check in or check out resulting in the landlord having to cover both inspections.
  • Tenants may only be charged ‘Permitted Payments’:
    • A refundable holding deposit – capped at no more than one weeks rent
    • Payments to change the tenancy agreement (requested by the Tenant) capped at £50
    • A default charge for late payment of rent – interest charged at 3% above Bank of England base rate
    • A default charge for replacement of lost keys/security device
    • A charge for early termination of the tenancy initiated by the tenant
    • A refundable tenancy deposit – capped at no more that five weeks rent for annual income less than £50,000 or six weeks rent for annual income above £50,000

What does this mean for existing tenancies?

If you renew your existing tenancy after 1st June 2019 and the rental income is under £50,000 per annum, the dilapidations deposit will be capped at 5 weeks rent. Therefore any balance above 5 weeks must be returned to the tenant.

 There will be a transition period from 1st June 2019 to 30th May 2020. During this time charges such as an inventory check out can be charged to the tenant if it has been stipulated in the original tenancy agreement.

As a business we have looked at deposit replacement options that allow the landlord the protection of 6 weeks rent rather than the 5 if the annual rental is under £50,000. We have chosen to offer the ZERO DEPOSIT, deposit free rental option

Zero Deposit allows tenants to purchase a guarantee for the cost of one week's rent that gives you the equivalent protection of a six-week cash deposit. Your tenants remain fully accountable for looking after your property and paying rent with Zero Deposits making payment to you in the event of a fair claim at the end of the tenancy. Claim disputes are settled by The Dispute Service (TDS) and paid to your agent or representative within two working days. The branch manager will be happy to answer any questions you may have about this at any time.

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