What is a tenant?

I’m referring to the Tenant Fees Act 2019.
What is the definition of a “tenant” the act wishes to protect, surely a tenant is one whom enters into a legal tenancy agreement with a Landlord. Fully agree that those costs should be borne by the Landlord. That said, persons whom apply for tenancy and fail referencing are not tenants, so surely they should stand charges. Likewise I was not a landlord when I was applying to buy the property, only when contracts were exchanged was I the owner/landlord.
I’m seeing an increase in chances and dreamers applying whom have nothing to loose… Of course I ask them to fill in a pre-referencing form, where this signed form doesn’t agree with a failed referencing, they forfeit reference costs.

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ask to see proof of earning and bring bank statements . before you reference. The chancers wont do it

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Hi Peter, the problem you raise – that, without a small referencing fee, tenants have no disincentive from applying to many properties without seriously considering their suitability – is one that OpenRent raised in parliament when the Act was being discussed.

If the tenant misleads the landlord then the landlord may be able to claim the holding deposit as forfeit. This offers at least some protection to landlords.

As I’m sure you know, but to be clear for anyone reading this thread in the future, the analysis you present of who the Tenant Fees Act applies to is incorrect. Charging a prospective tenant a referencing fee would be a prohibited payment under the Act, as the prospective tenant is a “relevant person” in connection with a tenancy.


Extract from the Tenant Fees Act guide DL from Gov.UK
“A holding deposit can only be retained if :
• provide false or misleading information which it is reasonable for you to take it into account (or my conduct in providing it), when deciding whether to grant the tenancy.”

In my case the applicant completed a signed pre-application that formed part of my opinion of being suitable. They stated as living at their current property for 3 years and paid rent regularly, the return stated 13 months with unsatisfactory rent payments (i requested vision of their current tenancy agreement along with evidence of rent payments, they did not respond to that). Also the question was asked do you have any CCJ’s, they stated No, the return stated to a current CCJ.
So I believe I was justified in this case (under the guidelines) of withholding the costs of referencing.

I think you are justified to, but unfortunately you can only do it legally if you comply with the other conditions of the Tenant Fees Act:

  1. You have written evidence of each of the false statements they gave you
  2. You have not retained held the deposit longer than the deadline, which by default is 15 days
  3. You have formally written to them within 15 days giving your reasons for withholding the deposit.

Hope this all applies and you get redress.