It can often seem like renters get a sour deal. This is especially true in London, where demand usually outweighs supply. On too many occasions, those looking for rental homes have to stump up hundreds - if not thousands - of pounds before they’ve even got the keys to their shiny new home.
With a holding deposit, security deposit, first month’s rent and agent fees needed, we wouldn’t begrudge you for robbing a bank to get the funds required to move in (disclaimer, please don’t rob a bank). Fortunately, the luck of renters took a turn for the better in 2017 when Philip Hammond, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, set out a plan to ban agents from charging tenant fees 🎉
Don’t start singing “you are my sunshine” to ol’ Philly boy just yet, however. Here we are two years on, and agents still charge renters admin fees. But everything is about to change - from 2019, tenant fees will finally get the boot thanks to the Tenants Fee Draft Bill.
Here’s what it means for you and your pockets.
What Exactly Are Tenant Fees
If you’re a first-time renter in the UK or coming from overseas, you may wonder what all the fuss is about. To clear things up, tenant fees are payable in addition to the rent and security deposit, which is often six-weeks’ rent but can be as much as eight.
Some of the admin fees that agents charge for include credit checks, referencing and assigning a guarantor. These fees cost anywhere between £300 and £1,000 depending on the amount of work needed to secure a tenancy and the agency’s pricing structure.
With private renting accounting for 4.7-million households in the UK, it’s easy to see why these fees are causing such a problem. Especially in London, which houses the most expensive property rental stock in the country.
Direct Impact on Renters
Currently, you might have to pay £300 for admin charges, £30-75 on referencing, £60-plus on guarantor charges (if needed), and £150 on check-in fees. That’s over £500 and all you’ve done is say you want the property. While the exact amount you pay varies, Citizens Advice claim the average amount a renter can expect to pay in fees is £400.
As of June 1st 2019, agents will no longer be able to charge for these fees, or credit checks, property inventories, cleaning services when vacating the property, gardening services, renewal and exit fees, defleaing a property as a result of tenants having pets, and requirements to having specific insurance companies.
Not only will you save before you move into the property; you will also keep the pennies in your bank account during your tenancy, which could be as much as an extra £500 when you factor the cost of renewals and cleaning fees.
That’s All Good But How Will Agents Make Up For The Lost Revenue?
When the announcement was made regarding the tenant fees, many predicted that agents would make up for the lost revenue by charging landlords higher fees. Landlords having to pay more to agents would then have a knock-on effect that would see them raising rental prices to cope with the higher fees.
And what happens if landlords raise rents? The poor renter has to front the cost, which would essentially make this whole Tenants Draft Bill redundant. Before you go and tell yourself it was all too good to be true, don’t fret just yet.
Scotland implemented the ban on tenant fees in 2011, and just two percent of landlords raised their rents as a result. There will most likely be a similar trends in England, with a very small percentage of landlords upping their fees. It’s not as simple as dictating market trends - unrealistic rental prices will lead to vacant properties, which is a landlord’s worst nightmare.
In reality, agents will have to find smarter ways to increase their revenue, ways that don’t result in landlords or renters having to pay more.
What Will I Still Have to Pay For?
While the news of banned tenants fees is likely to see you jump for the stars ⭐️ some renters have been left confused about what they will have to pay for exactly. Those renting homes will still be responsible for paying the rent (that was a given) and a security deposit.
Under the new rules, deposits can’t be over six weeks, so there is still potential for more saving. You will still be required to pay a holding fee to secure the property, although this will be deducted from the security deposit you have to pay once you move into the property.
If you don’t keep up with the rent, you may also be liable to pay fees for late or non payments. Utilities, council tax and TV licence will also be your responsibility, unless stated otherwise.
Here is a complete breakdown of what you are liable to pay as a renter:
- Security deposit
- Holding deposit (if the holding deposit is £500, and the security deposit is £1,500, £500 will be deducted from the security deposit before you move in)
- Defaulting on the rent
- Assigning a new tenant (capped at £50)
- Termination of tenancy at the tennant’s request
- Council tax
- Utilities like gas, electric and broadband
- TV licence
Still got questions about what you need to rent in London? Check out our blog about the documents needed to rent a place in London.
Most things that seem too good to be true often leave you feeling disappointed. But in this case, it really is a win for renters 😃 The Bill marks the end of upfront fees and provides more clarity, which means you will know exactly what you do and don’t have to pay for.
All that’s left to do now is find a fabulous new home to move in to. Why don’t you start your search today?