Some agents and landlords will ask you to pay a small holding deposit to take a property off the market while you are deciding whether or not to sign an agreement with them. This is perfectly legal, but under the Tenant Fees Act 2019, it should be no more than 1 weeks' rent. It will be refundable if the Landlord decides not to go ahead, but the Landlord/agent can to keep it if you decide not to go ahead with the tenancy or fail to sign the tenancy by a deadline you have been set. This would usually be 15 days from when the holding deposit is paid, unless a different period has been chosen.
This is different to the damage deposit, which you will usually have to pay when you sign the contract. This is usually about a month’s rent per person and must, by law, be protected by a deposit protection scheme – for more information on these, see below.
Under the Tenancy Fees Act 2019, the deposit whcih can be charged is capped at no more than 5 weeks’ rent where the total annual rent is less than £50,000. If the total annual rent for the whole house is more than £50,000 this goes up to 6 weeks' rent.
Tenancy Deposit Schemes - this clip tells you how to maximise your chances of getting your deposit back in full at the end of your tenancy:
check whether your tenancy deposit is protected!
If you are renting under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy your landlord should protect your deposit in an approved tenancy deposit protection scheme within 30 days of receipt. If he or she doesn't you could claim compensation of up to 3 times the amount of your deposit.
You can check your deposit online. There are links below to check each of the approved schemes. If you don't know which scheme has been used, ask your Landlord, or check all three. You will need to have your tenancy details handy before you start.
If your deposit IS NOT protected, contact advice(su) for advice on what to do next.
See also our info guide Deposits & Deposit Schemes for more information on deposits and details of the three government registered deposit schemes.
For any tenancy agreement signed on or after 1 June 2019, there are restrictions on what fees you can be changed as a tenant. If your tenancy starts after 1 June, but you signed the contract earlier, the Landlord/agent can continue to charge fees until June 2020.
Landlords and agents cannot charge fees for:
- referencing and credit checks
- immigration checks
- renewal of tenancy on the same terms
The fees which landlords and agents can charge (other than rent) are:
- a refundable tenancy deposit (see above)
- a refundable holding deposit of no more than 1 week’s rent
- losses or reasonable costs incurred by the Landllord or agent as a result of early termination of the tenancy by you or if you leave without notice. This could be, for example, the balance of the whole rent due for the rest of the tenancy,
- Up to £50 (or actual cost if reasonably incurred) for changes to the tenancy agreement including change of tenant.
- payments of bills including utilities, communication services, TV licence and Council Tax
- interest on late payment of rent, if it is paid 14 or more days late and the tenancy agreement provides for this
- replacement of a lost keys where this is specified in the tenancy agreement
Contact us at advice (su) if an agent or landlord tries to insist that you pay a banned fee, or consider looking for accommodation with another agent or landlord.