How will the Tenant Fees Act 2019 affect the rental market?
The Tenant Fees Bill gained Royal Assent earlier this year, putting a stop to letting agents and landlords charging tenants excessive and unfair fees such as high deposits or unexpected letting fees. June will see the Act coming into effect and landlords will have until then to consider their options. The actions that they take will have consequences for both the private rental market and the lettings sector in general.
Gary Ekpenyoung, our partner in the social housing team, explains what the Act will mean and how landlords must prepare:
Excessive fees placed upon tenants in the past have left those considering renting with unrealistic ideas surrounding the true cost of their rentals – many thinking that they need more money than they actually require. Once the Act is introduced, there is the potential for a combined total saving of £240 million a year on rental fees, which equates to up to £70 per household. Although this may seem like good news for tenants, this is not a guaranteed saving as letting agents may increase their fees and force landlords to increase rental costs as a way to recoup these funds.
Landlords with a limited number of properties may consider self-managing in order to avoid the potential hike in letting agent charges altogether. For those with a larger portfolio, assessing whether the increased responsibility is sustainable is important. Tenants need to be sure they can rely on their landlords to support them as agreed, with no dip in service or security experienced.
The Act is unlikely to affect social housing landlords in the same way as the private market. Social housing uses primarily assured tenancy agreements that are not marketed using letting agents.
However, the Act may create hurdles for intergenerational living schemes, such as Homeshare UK – part of Shared Lives Plus – due to the money exchanged during homeshare agreements to cover admin and matching costs. Fortunately, if the homeshare organisation is registered as a charity or a community interest company, they are exempt from such utility costs and will largely be unaffected by the changes.
Tenants will largely benefit from the Tenant Fees Act, but landlords and letting agents must fully understand what the new legislation means for them, so they can handle the shifting marketplace without issue.