What to do if you've been charged unlawful fees by your landlord or letting agent.

From 1 June 2019 a landlord or letting agent is only allowed to charge for certain fees. These fees are:

  • The rent.
  • A refundable tenancy deposit.
  • Payments to change the tenancy.
  • A refundable holding deposit.
  • Payments associated with early termination of the tenancy.
  • Payments regarding:
    • utilities
    • communication services
    • TV licence
    • council tax
  • A default fee where required under a tenancy agreement for:
    • late payment of rent
    • replacement of a lost key/security device giving access to the housing 

The Tenant Fees Act guidance on GOV.UK explains these charges in more detail. 

Information can also be found the Shelter website.

If you have been charged an unlawful fee or payment you should follow this process:

Write to your landlord or letting agent 

You can use our letter templates to ask your landlord or agent to return any unlawful fees. 

You should keep copies of any letters you send.

We have first stage letters for specific fees and if they don't work then you should also send our second stage letter.

First stage letters

Return of your holding deposit

You can use this letter template to ask for the return of your holding deposit.

document First stage letter template for holding deposit issues (14 KB)

Default fees

The only default fees you can be charged for are: 

  • late payment of rent
  • replacing lost keys or security devices

Further information on default fees can be found on page 59 of the Tenant Fees Act guidance on GOV.UK.

Any other default fees are unlawful and you can use this letter template to ask for the return of the fee.

document First stage letter for return of  default fees charges (15 KB)

Unlawful tenant fees 

You can use this letter template to ask for the return of any unlawful tenant fees.

Second stage letter 

If you haven't received an adequate response or they won't return the fee, then send the second stage letter.

You should keep a copy of the letter you send.

If the letters don't work

If the first stage and second stage letters don't work you should: 

  • contact us and provide copies of the letters you sent

However, you also have the option to:

  • go to a first tier tribunal yourself 
  • contact a redress scheme if you're dealing with a letting agent

Contact us

We can investigate further to decide if we can take enforcement action against the landlord or agent, so they have to repay any unlawful fees.

You should contact us 10 working days after you've sent the second stage letter and haven't received your fee back.

Email us on private.housing@bristol.gov.uk with your contact details and with copies of the letters you've sent.

Use the First-tier Tribunal

You could recover the payment using the First-tier Tribunal

You'll need to submit evidence to support any application you make. 

Complain to a redress scheme that deals with letting agents

If the unlawful payment has been taken by a letting agent then you can complain to the relevant redress scheme.

All letting agents must: 

  • belong to a Government approved redress scheme
  • display the scheme information clearly on their website 

If the scheme information isn't available, you should ask your letting agent which redress scheme they belong to.