In fact, the law prevents any such payments being demanded from tenants.
Rent and Housing Acts
The Rent (Scotland) Act 1984, says that any person who - as a condition of the grant, renewal or continuance of a protected tenancy - requires the payment of any "premium" is guilty of an offence. "Premium" here was defined as any fine or other sum or any other pecuniary consideration in addition to rent.
The Private Rented Housing (Scotland) Act 2011 went on to amend the definition of "premium" to include any service or administration fees or charges.
The combination of these two provisions makes it illegal for agents to ask tenants to pay anything other than the rent or a security deposit (to be paid into one of the protected deposit schemes) - and yet some tenants are still faced with charges being levied by letting agents for a variety of matters. Examples are fees for:
- checking references
- agreeing an extension of Lease
- cleaning fees - up front, where there is no certainty that such cleaning will be required and
- checking inventories at termination.
The courts are supporting tenants' rights
The recent case of Cross -v- Aberdeen Property Leasing covered one such payment.
In this case the letting company had imposed an administration fee on the tenants of £125 simply for the entering into of the tenancy agreement. The tenants paid this fee initially (presumably because they thought they no choice) but subsequently took court action to recover it. The court confirmed that the administration fee was a prohibited payment.
If you would like to discuss these issues further, please contact us.