Middlesbrough Council's Public Protection Service has been looking at what the legislation means for people living in the private rented sector in Middlesbrough.
Under the Tenant Fees Act 2019 landlords and letting agents will only be allowed to charge:
- Fees for rent
- Deposits, with holding deposits capped at one week's rent
- Costs incurred for changing a tenancy if requested by the tenant - capped at £50 or reasonable costs if higher
- Payments associated with early termination of a tenancy agreement when requested by the tenant
- Payments in respect of utilities and council tax
- Default fees for late payment of rent
- The cost of replacing lost keys or security devices if included in the tenancy agreement.
All other fees not listed in the legislation are now prohibited. Previously, tenants and prospective tenants could be charged for viewing a property, setting up a tenancy agreement, administrative fees, check-out fees and third party costs such as reference agency fees.
Judith Hedgley, Middlesbrough Council's Head of Public Protection said: "The new laws aim to reduce the costs incurred when renting a property and means that prospective tenants can see what the cost of renting a property will be upfront without any hidden charges.
"Landlords will now be responsible for the costs incurred in renting out their property - such as letting agency fees.
"If landlords or letting agents make a charge that is not legally allowed they could be fined up to £5,000 for a first offence and up to £30,000 for a further breach of the law.
"Our Trading Standards team has contacted all local lettings agents and provided them with advice and guidance on the new law."
Councillor Dorothy Davison, Middlesbrough Council's Executive member for Adult Social Care and Public Health, said: "I welcome the introduction of this new law as it will help people who live or are seeking to live in Middlesbrough to make fully informed choices about their accommodation and the costs involved.
"As the law includes student accommodation and houses in multiple occupation it will help a lot of people who may otherwise have had to pay extra fees for finding somewhere to live and then having to pay extra for hidden charges during or at the end of their tenancy."
- Anyone who has concerns about any charges they have incurred in renting a property in Middlesbrough can contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Services Helpline on 0808 223 1133 who are the first point of contact for all calls for Trading Standards nationally.
- For the latest local updates and information, visit middlesbrough.gov.uk/covid19
For information on local help and support, visit Help Boro at www.middlesbrough.gov.uk/helpboro or call Middlesbrough Council's support line 01642 729777
The latest advice from Government and Public Health England can be found at https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus