THOUSANDS of Oxford residents are expected to benefit this summer when new government rules are introduced to ban letting agents charging tenants unnecessary and unfair fees.

The Tenant Fees Act is a new piece of legislation that will stop landlords and letting agents charging tenants a letting fee when they apply for a property.

It also means landlords and agents are only able to recover ‘reasonably incurred’ costs from tenants which they will need to provide evidence of before any charges can be imposed.

Approximately a third of Oxford residents live in privately rented accommodation – one of the highest proportions in the UK.

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The government has said the aim of the Act is to reduce the initial costs that tenants face, as well as costs incurred throughout the tenancy period, creating a ‘fairer and more affordable’ private rented sector.

The Tenant Fees Act will come into force on June 1 2019.

As well as the ban on unnecessary fees, the Act will include

  • capping security deposits at no more than 5 weeks’ rent and holding deposits at no more than 1 week’s rent.
  • capping the amount that can be charged for a change to a tenancy at £50 unless the landlord demonstrates that greater costs were incurred
  • creating a financial penalty with a fine of £5,000 for an initial breach of the ban
  • requiring Trading Standards to enforce the ban and to make provision for tenants to be able to recover unlawfully charged fees
  • preventing landlords from recovering possession of their property via the section 21 Housing Act 1988 procedure until they have repaid any unlawfully charged fees
  • amending the Consumer Rights Act 2015 to specify that the letting agent transparency requirements should apply to online property portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla
  • enabling local authorities to retain the money raised through financial penalties