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028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

Government cracks down on tenancy fees in England

The Tenant Fees Bill received Royal Assent on 12 February and paves the way for the banning of tenant fees from 1 June 2019. The Tenant Fees Act does not extend to Northern Ireland.

Landlord is responsible for paying for agent services

The new Act aims to reduce the costs that tenants face at the beginning of a tenancy and those charged throughout the lifespan of a tenancy. The landlord will be responsible for paying for the services provided by agents. In addition, the legislation caps the amount that can be charged for a tenancy deposit to the equivalent of five weeks’ rent.

In addition to the measures outlined above, the Act also

  • Caps the amount that can be charged for a change to a tenancy to £50, unless the landlord can demonstrate that greater costs were incurred
  • Prevents landlords from evicting tenants under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 until any unlawfully charged fees have been repaid
  • Creates a financial penalty for an initial breach of the ban, with a criminal offence for subsequent breaches
  • Sets out requirements for the treatment of any holding deposit
  • Lists the types of payments which are permitted under the Act

Tenancy fees in Northern Ireland

As reported last year, many fees charged by agents in Northern Ireland at the outset or renewal of a tenancy are unlawful and can be reclaimed under the terms of the Commission on Disposals of Land Order (NI) 1986. While this piece of legislation is certainly helpful to those tenants who are asked to certain fees, it is silent on the matter of fees incurred during tenancy, such as late payment penalties and administrative charges for changes to tenancy agreements.

Tenants who have paid certain fees at the start or renewal of a tenancy may be able to claim these charges back, and can use our template letter to start this process. Contact the Housing Rights helpline for advice. 

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