Tenant Fees Act 2019 - government guidance

House key iStock 000004543619XSmall 146x219The government recently published guidance on the Tenant Fees Act 2019 (TFA 2019). Robin Stewart and David Smith of Anthony Gold Solicitors look at some of the key questions relating to the guidance, including enforcement, penalties and some controversial aspects such as guidance pertaining to payment of damages.

Original News: Government publishes guides under Tenant Fees Act 2019 (LNB News 01/04/2019 50)
The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) has published guides for landlords & letting agents, tenants and enforcement authorities in anticipation of the main provisions of the Tenant Fees Act 2019 coming into force on 1 June 2019.

LexisNexis practical point: The main provisions of TFA 2019 prohibit landlords and letting agents from re-quiring tenants of certain residential tenancies to make payments other than those specifically permitted. The effect is to prohibit the charging of fees by a landlord’s agent for viewings, background checks, inventories, or anything else not expressly allowed. It also sets limits on the amount of money that can be demanded as a security or holding deposit, and for certain other payments and requires property agents to belong to an approved or designated Client Money Protection Scheme.

Who will enforce the ban?
The ban can be enforced by local authorities (enforcement authorities) or by a ‘relevant person’. ‘Relevant person’ will usually mean the tenant, but it also includes someone who acts on behalf of a tenant and someone who guarantees the rent.

The ban will usually be enforced by local authority trading standards teams - TFA 2019 places a duty on local authorities to enforce the legislation. District councils who share a combined trading standards team with other district councils may enforce the ban themselves if they choose to do so, and the lead enforcement authority may take steps to enforce the ban in addition to its core duties of issuing guidance and overseeing the operation of the ban.

Enforcement authorities may also impose penalties for offences taking place outside of their geographic area, provided they give notice to the local authority in whose area the offence has taken place first.

What are the penalties for breach? What is the procedure for local authorities enforcing breach? To what extent is the guidance binding? Are there any inaccuracies in the guidance, where it does not align with TFA 2019?

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