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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

Concerned about letting fees?

Housing Rights has produced a new professional resource on the lawfulness of letting fees within the private rental sector.

Letting fees are additional charges for services included in the routine letting and management of properties. They affect both tenants and landlords in the private rental sector – a sector which is increasing in size on account of a shortage of social housing and barriers to home ownership.

The law on letting fees

The lawfulness of letting fees is determined by the Commission on Disposals of Land (Northern Ireland) Order 1986. The 1986 Order was passed with the intention of ending the longstanding practice whereby landlords could demand that their tenant pay for the letting agent's professional services. However, despite this, charging tenants letting fees remains a longstanding and widespread practice within the industry to this day.

Housing Rights recently supported two successful court cases at Belfast County Court, which found that letting agents had unlawfully charged tenants letting fees. Following the outcome of these cases, Housing Rights has produced a professional resource on letting fees, which includes an overview of:

  • Types of letting fees and established practices within the industry;
  • Legislation governing the private rental sector within Northern Ireland, including the Commission on Disposals of Land (Northern Ireland) Order 1986;
  • The legal basis for challenging letting fees;
  • Legal challenges and the outcome of test cases;
  • Implications arising from these judgements for letting agents and for tenants;
  • Advice and assistance on reclaiming fees already paid;
  • Key points for advice practitioners; and
  • Practices within other jurisdictions.

This publication will be of interest to those who work within the letting industry, advice practitioners and tenants (whether prospective, current or former tenants) who have been charged letting fees. If you have any concerns in relation to this matter, you can contact Housing Rights on 02890 245640.


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Private Tenancies, Practical tips

This article was written on 4 December 2018. It should not be relied on as a statement of the current law or policy position. For help with housing issues please contact our helpline on 028 9024 5640 or use our online chat service at www.housingadviceNI.org.