What is a letting agent, what is a landlord, what the Tenant Fees Act 2019 covers and applies to, property guardians, other legislation you need to follow.
What a letting agent is
The Tenant Fees Act 2019 (TFA 2019) defines a letting agent as a person who engages in letting agency work.
Letting agency work means things a person does in the course of a business, and in response to instructions from a prospective landlord or a prospective tenant.
You may be legally considered a letting agent if your activities fall within this definition, for example if you:
- supply marketing or other services related to the letting of property
- arrange viewings
- get queries from potential landlords or tenants, and pass them on to clients
The law will still apply to you and your business even if:
- you don't have a physical premises
- you run your letting agency online
What a landlord is
The TFA 2019 gives no legal definition for landlord. However, it lists five categories of person likely to be included in the term landlord. The list includes a person who proposes to be a landlord under a tenancy.
The glossary to the Tenant Fees Act 2019 Guidance produced by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) states that the landlord is likely to be:
- the person who owns a property for rent, and
- the person to whom rent is paid, if rent is required to be paid
A landlord could also be someone who doesn't own the property, for example someone who is renting the property from the owner and subletting it to someone else (the tenant).
If you're not sure whether the work you do falls under the definitions of letting agency work or landlord, you can get advice from:
- your local authority trading standards service
- your professional body or trade association
- an independent legal adviser
The Tenant Fees Act 2019
The Tenant Fees Act 2019 prohibits certain types of tenant fees, in order to make renting fairer and more affordable for tenants.
The TFA 2019 also amended some existing legislation around:
The TFA 2019 applies to letting agents and landlords in England only.
Types of tenancies the TFA 2019 applies to
The TFA 2019 applies to all of the following, regardless of the date the tenancy began:
- an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST)
- lettings for student accommodation
- licences to occupy housing
The TFA 2019 does not apply to:
- a social housing tenancy
- a long lease tenancy (under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993)
- a licence to occupy holiday accommodation
- some excluded licences to occupy
Any contractual clauses within older tenancy agreements (dated before 1 June 2019) requiring the tenant to make a prohibited payment have no legal effect.
A property guardian is someone who occupies a building short term, paying discounted rent. Under a guardianship, the property owner knows that their property, which would otherwise be empty, is occupied by someone who's looking after it.
For more information see the DLUHC guidance on Property Guardians