In this week’s #AskTDS, we explain the impact of the Tenant Fees Act on deposits and whether there are any changes our members need to be mindful of.
Having received Royal Assent on 12th February, the Tenant Fees Act is due to come in to effect in England from 1st June 2019. The new legislation prevents letting agents and landlords charging additional fees to tenants, while capping deposits at the value of five weeks’ rent where the annual rent is £50,000 or less, and six weeks’ rent where the annual rent exceeds £50,000.
Currently, tenants can be charged for a number of extra services, including the production of an inventory report, credit checks being carried out, and cleaning services, however this will change once the Ban comes into effect. Charging to use a tenancy deposit protection scheme will also be banned. Agents and landlords will, therefore, no longer be able to pass on the cost of deposit protection – even though the service will remain a legal requirement.
Anyone caught illegally charging tenants for this could be fined up to £5,000 – highlighting the seriousness with which the government is taking the issue. Although this does spell changes in how landlords and agents deal with new tenancies, legislation on tenancy deposit protection will not change and thus the way in which deposits are protected won’t either. Neither will the work of TDS.
A fairly significant change will be introduced, however, in the form of a cap of five/six week’s rent being taken as a deposit – even though how this deposit is taken and protected will remain the same.
In order to ensure a smooth transition to this new landscape, agents and landlords should ensure a good dialogue with tenants. It’s important that both parties know their rights and responsibilities and understand how these changes could affect existing arrangements.
For new tenancies, landlord and letting agent members will have to look at how they cover the costs of additional services now that the costs cannot be passed on, even in part, to tenants. This may require individuals carrying out more of the work by themselves – for example, conducting their own inventory reports, for which TDS will be issuing new guidance on to help provide clarity on best practice. Cleaning is another example of where costs can be cut before a new tenant moves in to a property and which doesn’t always require professional help.
Change can always be disconcerting but, as with most things, preparation is key. Good relationships, forward planning and an awareness of exactly what the changes will entail can help in mitigating against any unwanted consequences.
Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) is a government-approved scheme for the protection of tenancy deposits; TDS offers both Insured and Custodial protection and also provides fair adjudication for disputes that arise over the tenancy deposits that we protect.
We provide invaluable training in tenancy deposit protection and disputes for agents and landlords through the TDS Academy as well as joining with MOL to provide the Technical Award in Residential Tenancy Deposits.
TDS Insured Scheme: where a TDS member can hold the tenancy deposits as stakeholder during the term of the tenancy.
TDS Custodial Scheme: where TDS hold the deposit for the duration of the tenancy.
TDS Academy: TDS provides property professionals with invaluable training in tenancy deposit protection and tenancy deposit disputes.
TDS Northern Ireland: TDS is Northern Ireland’s leading and only not for profit tenancy deposit protection scheme.
TDS can only comment on the process for our scheme, other deposit protection schemes may have a different process/require different steps. Content is correct at the time of writing.
These views are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the view of TDS, its officers and employees.
ARLA|Propertymark: For agents who would like to stay up to date, you can contact Propertymark | ARLA at: firstname.lastname@example.org. By being a member of Propertymark | ARLA you will be eligible for TDS Insured best headline rates.
RLA: If you are a landlord and would like to keep up to date with any changes that may affect you or your responsibilities, you can contact the RLA at: email@example.com and quote reference: dg715 to receive 25% off your first year’s membership.