When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Letting fees

Agents sometimes ask you to pay a fee to apply for a tenancy. This request might be illegal. 

Get advice before paying any fees to rent a property

Letting agent fees in Northern Ireland

Agents cannot charge you a fee to cover work done to benefit the landlord when setting up or renewing a tenancy. 

This has been law in Northern Ireland since 1984.  The courts confirmed this law in judgments made in 2017 and 2018. A fee is illegal if

  • a letting agent charged the fee and
  • you had to pay it to get the tenancy and
  • it covered work the landlord would do if there was no agent 

Government departments agree that agents cannot charge these fees.

The law does not cover fees that you might pay during a tenancy.

Landlord fees in Northern Ireland

The letting fee law only applies when an agent is charging the fee. It doesn't cover fees that a landlord charges you. 

Types of illegal fees

These charges may be illegal if you have to pay them to get a tenancy

  • Application fee
  • Credit checking fees
  • Guarantor checking fees
  • Deposit administration fees
  • Tenancy administration fees

These fees all cover work that the landlord would do if the agent was not managing the tenancy. 

Holding deposit

A holding deposit is like a booking fee. It reserves a property for you while you go through the application process. 

Agents and landlords can charge a holding deposit. Always ask for

  • a receipt to show you've paid
  • a statement explaining the terms and conditions attached to the deposit

The agent will usually use the holding deposit as part of your tenancy deposit if you take on the tenancy. 

The agent should return the full fee to you if the landlord decides not to offer you the tenancy. 

The terms and conditions should explain how much the agent can keep if you change your mind and decide you don't want the tenancy. 

Refusing to pay letting fees

You can refuse to pay fees if your agent says you have to pay them to apply for a tenancy. Show them the government statement and court judgment about tenancy fees.

Some people worry that they won't get the tenancy if they refuse to pay the fee. Get a receipt if you decide to pay a fee. Make sure this explains what work the fee covers. 

You can try claiming your money back after you've moved in 

Claiming back fees that you have paid

The law allows you to claim back any illegal fees that you've paid in the last 6 years. You will need a receipt to prove that you paid the money, so getting this is really important. 

Write to the agent asking for your money back. Use our template letter to claim back fees you paid to an agent for setting up or renewing a tenancy.

Getting advice on tenancy fees

Get advice if you're asked to pay any fees before you move into a property. The fee may be illegal.