Find out what a letting agent can and can't charge you for when you rent a home.
Ask about fees before you sign
Letting agents must clearly show their fees on their websites and in their offices.
Ask them to tell you about all the fees you'll be charged before you sign a tenancy agreement.
What letting agents can charge you for
Before you move in, most letting agents charge you for:
- drawing up the contract
- doing an inventory of the property
- doing credit checks to see if you've had problems paying bills in the past
- getting references from your employer, bank or previous landlord
- admin costs for things like phone calls and postage
You may also be charged for a right to rent immigration check.
You may also have to pay a holding deposit to 'reserve' the property before you sign a tenancy agreement.
Rent in advance and tenancy deposits
Once you've signed the tenancy agreement, most letting agents ask you to pay the following:
- rent in advance
- a tenancy deposit (this is usually 4 or 6 weeks' rent) – this should be protected in a government-backed scheme
Fees when your contract ends
When your tenancy agreement ends you're often asked to pay for:
- renewing the tenancy agreement when the fixed term ends
- an inspection of the property when you move out (if they told you about it when you moved in)
- professional cleaning costs (if they told you what it would cost when you moved in)
You should never be asked to pay a fee to stay on after the fixed term ends if you don't sign a new agreement.
What letting agents can't charge you for
It's a criminal offence if a letting agent charges you to register with them or show you a list of properties to rent.
They also must not charge you for:
- routine inspections during your tenancy
- anything they also charge the landlord for
Work out how much it costs to start renting
Work out how much it costs to start renting, including fees, rent in advance and a deposit.
Holding deposits to reserve a property
You may be asked to pay a holding deposit if you want to reserve a property, while the agent checks references and draws up the tenancy agreement.
- you're committed to the property so it isn't rented to someone else
- the landlord is committed to renting the property to you, subject to checks
Don't pay a holding deposit or sign anything unless you're certain you want the property.
Before you pay any money, ask the letting agents to confirm to you in writing:
- how the deposit will be used
- if the deposit will be returned to you (this should happen if the landlord decides not to rent the property to you)
- if the deposit is used as part of your tenancy deposit or rent
- if any fees will be taken from the deposit
- when some of the deposit may not be refunded, for example, if you give inaccurate information about yourself (they can't lawfully keep all of it)
After you pay a holding deposit, landlords shouldn't ask you to pay a higher rent than you initially agreed. If they do, you have the right to walk away and get all your holding deposit back. You can take them to court for breaking the agreement if they:
- refuse to give you back your deposit
- decide not to rent to you when all your references and credit checks were in order
How letting agents must tell you about charges
Letting agents must tell you upfront about fees on their websites and in their offices. They must not mislead you and must clearly describe:
- the cost of each fee including VAT
- what each fee covers
Fees don't have to be published in this way for websites that just advertise properties, like Rightmove or Zoopla.
Complain about letting agent fees
To complain about fees that are hidden or unclear you must contact the agency first.
If the letting agent doesn't resolve the problem, you can complain to a letting agent redress scheme (agents must be a member of one).
Only agencies themselves can deal with complaints about the level of fees.
Find out more about how to complain about letting agents.
Help and advice about private renting
Find out more about using a letting agent to rent a home.