Students urged to check before paying landlord and agent fees

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A warning about illegal fees has gone out to students in Nottingham as their thoughts turn to accommodation for the next academic year.

It has come from Nottingham City Council’s Trading Standards team and, while the advice applies to everyone, it is particularly timely for students seeking a place to live in 2021/22.

The aim is to make sure they don’t pay any administration or other fees which shouldn’t be demanded. Landlords and letting agents are only allowed to charge for:

  • Holding deposits (capped at one week’s rent)
  • Security deposits (capped at five weeks’ rent)
  • Utility bills and council tax
  • Default fees – including key loss, rent arrears and damages (reasonable charges)
  • Changes to a tenancy at the tenant’s request – (around £50 or reasonable charges if higher)
  • Fees for leaving a tenancy early, known as termination charges (to cover actual loss suffered by the landlord).

This means that previously-common charges – such as fees for administration, referencing and renewals – are illegal even if they’re on a property advert or tenancy agreement.

Trading Standards officers will be writing to some of the largest Nottingham-based landlords and letting agents to remind them of their legal obligations and provide further guidance.

Student tenants, prospective student tenants and their guarantors can visit the link below for further guidance on what can, and cannot, be charged for, as well as a useful checklist for finding a property and tackling the rentals market.

https://www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/media/2836494/the-tenant-fees-act-how-does-it-affect-me.pdf

Councillor Sam Webster, Portfolio Holder for Finance, Growth and the City Centre, said: “This year has been a difficult one for all of us, but especially students who are living away from family members in another part of the country.

“We want to make sure that there are no further issues as they begin the process of finding and securing accommodation for the next academic term, which is likely to begin soon.

“The advice in our document highlighted here is important because it sets out clearly exactly what fees it is appropriate to be paying as a tenant, and which would be illegal if asked for. Of course, this is also relevant for anyone renting in Nottingham but is particularly key for students just now.

“It’s important to point out that the overwhelming majority of local private landlords are honest and professional, but it still doesn’t hurt to be armed with all the information you need when starting a tenancy.”

Issues with a landlord or letting agent can always be reported to Nottingham City Council. More here… www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/information-for-business/business-information-and-support/trading-standards/consumer-advice/renting-a-property.

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