The Impact of the New Tenant Fee Ban

On June 1st – less than a month away now – the Tenant Fees Act 2019 comes into force. Better known as the “tenant fees ban”, this legislation defines the fees that a landlord can charge a tenant – and the list of charges that a landlord can no longer pass on to the tenant.

Much of the Act is common sense, of course, and seeks only to put legislative clarity around what is deemed fair and unfair when it comes to expecting tenants to bear the burden of what could be regarded as the ‘cost of doing business’ as a landlord.

The following paragraph from the Act itself is probably the best summary of the whole:
“Landlords will be responsible for the costs associated with setting up, renewing or ending a tenancy (i.e. referencing, administration, inventory, renewal and check-out fees). Agents and landlords do not have to pay back any fees that have been charged to a tenant before 1 June 2019.”

IF anything, however, the Act reinforces the importance of ensuring that a landlord is armed with an independent inventory at the start of the tenancy. It is that independent inventory which gives the landlord his or her best chance to recoup costs against damages at the end of the tenancy and retain some or all of the deposit.

As the Act states, “The deposit is the tenant’s money and you will need to provide evidence to substantiate any deductions from the deposit at the end of the tenancy if challenged.”

That ‘evidence’ is the independent inventory and associated check-in and check-out reports. When there are disputes with tenants over the condition of the property or its contents, it may go to arbitration.

Again, from the Act: “In most cases, it will make sense for you to recover claims for damages through the tenancy deposit at the end of the tenancy, where independent arbitration will be available through the relevant tenancy deposit protection scheme.”

We’ve been producing inventories and schedules of condition for almost 20 years. We understand what the dispute schemes expect from a detailed inventory and check out report and what needs to be included to stand up to scrutiny. Our reports have been singled out for praise from numerous adjudicators over the years. It helps, too, that we are independent, so the arbitrators know we do not ‘represent’ agents, tenants, or the landlord. Our reports are impartial and record an accurate state of affairs.

In addition, with a detailed inventory, it is easier to avoid going to arbitration in the first place because a schedule of condition signed by the tenant at the start of the tenancy makes it hard to dispute the changed conditions at the end of the tenancy.

And whether the landlord or the agent manages a property, a Chase inventory can be updated at the start of each tenancy to ensure that the report always reflects the lasts conditions.

Here’s the last word on inventories from the Act itself:
“An inventory is a written record of the condition the property was in at the start of the tenancy, including details of anything that was already damaged or worn. This record should be agreed by you and the tenant. Conducting an inventory check at the start of a tenancy is in the interest of both tenants and landlords, but the burden of proof will fall on the landlord to demonstrate that any claims for damages against a tenant’s deposit at the end of your tenancy are justified. It is preferable for an independent person to undertake check in and check out reports (e.g. a specialist inventory clerk).”

If you want to find out more about our inventory services, have a look at our inventory page or call us on 0800 612 2081 to learn how we can help you.