Letting agent fees for tenants

Find out what a letting agent can and can't charge you for when you rent a home.

Charges before you move in

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 could also have to pay a holding deposit to 'reserve' the property before you sign a tenancy agreement.

There is a difference in what agents charge tenants, so it is worth shopping around.

Find out more about using a letting agent to rent a home.

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.

Calculate how much it costs to start renting

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You will have to pay an estimated upfront

  • Letting agent fees
    National average fees in England, Shelter research
  • Rent in advance
    Your first month’s rent is paid upfront
  • Tenancy deposit
    6 weeks’ rent, or sometimes one month’s rent

Results are approximate and for guidance only.
Get advice on how to handle the upfront costs of renting

What letting agents can't charge you for

Letting agents should not charge you for:

  • routine inspections during your tenancy
  • anything they also charge the landlord 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.

What letting agents must tell you

Before you sign a tenancy agreement, make sure you find out about all the fees you'll be charged.

Letting agents must clearly set out the fees they charge on their websites and in their offices. They must not mislead you. They 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.

Rent in advance and tenancy deposits

Once you've signed the tenancy agreement, most letting agents ask you to pay:

Holding deposits to reserve a property

The letting agent may ask you to pay a holding deposit if you want to reserve a property while they check your references.

Paying a holding deposit means:

  • you're committed to renting the property
  • the landlord is committed to renting the property to you, subject to checks 

Before you pay any money, ask the letting agent to confirm to you in writing:

  • how the holding deposit will be used
  • if it will be returned to you (this should happen if the landlord decides not to rent the property to you)
  • if it will be used towards your tenancy deposit or rent
  • if any of their fees will be taken from it
  • when some of it may not be refunded, for example, if you give inaccurate information about yourself (they can't legally keep all of it)

Don't pay a holding deposit or sign anything unless you're sure you want the property.  

After you pay a holding deposit, the landlord shouldn't ask you to pay a higher rent than you initially agreed. You have the right to walk away and get all your holding deposit back if they do.

You can take the letting agent to court for breaking the agreement if they:

  • refuse to give you back your holding deposit
  • decide not to rent to you when all your references and credit checks were in order

Fees when your contract ends

When your tenancy agreement ends the letting agent can ask you to pay for:

  • renewing the tenancy agreement 
  • 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 can't be asked to pay a fee to stay on after the fixed term ends if you don't sign a new agreement.

How to complain about letting agent fees

You must contact the agency first to complain about fees that are hidden or unclear.

You can complain to a letting agent redress scheme if the letting agent doesn't resolve the problem. Letting agents must be a member of a redress scheme.

Only agencies themselves can deal with complaints about the level of fees.

Find out more about how to complain about letting agents.

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