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Tenant Fees Act “does not ban charging for some viewings”

Guidance from Trading Standards suggests that it is possible, in some cases, to charge tenants to view a property to let - and this would be within the rules of the Tenant Fees Act.

New PropTech platform ViewRabbit provoked controversy last month when it proposed charging would-be tenants and buyers £30 per viewing - or potentially even more - for a so-called “guaranteed viewing” which the agent or landlord could not cancel once it was booked. 

This guaranteed feature of the proposal is central to guidance given to Letting Agent Today by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute.


A spokesperson tells LAT: “In principle, it is fine for sales viewings as long as agents and traders are transparent and upfront about any terms and conditions or charges applicable to payments and refunds. The business must not make any misleading statements or omissions as these are criminal offences.”

They continue: “Requiring a person to make a payment to view a property to rent is prohibited … Giving no option but to pay the fee is prohibited, but optional fees, like in this instance, are not prohibited.”

LAT originally approached the National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agent Team; however this was passed to the Chartered Trading Standards Institute.

The CTSI tells LAT: “If the matter is covered by the Estate Agents Act 1979 or Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations, then local trading standards will take responsibility for enforcement. If it is covered by the Tenant Fees Act 2019, then the matter could be enforced by Trading Standards, Housing or Environmental Health.”

What remains unknown, however, is whether agents will actually support the idea - ViewRabbit has declined to say which agencies, if any, have signed up.

There has been substantial scepticism about the idea.


TV property expert Phil Spencer wrote yesterday on our sister publication Estate Agent Today: “I’m a keen fan of innovation in the property industry, especially if it modernises and simplifies our way-too-complicated system of buying and selling. But charging £30 to view a home? The potential for bad publicity, and the confusion of agents acting for sellers yet receiving income from buyers for a viewing, smacks of complication and possible pitfalls.”

Polls and surveys on social media suggest a majority of agents will not be charging buyers and tenants for viewing properties.

  • icon

    Best way round this is to take a viewing deposit refundable once the viewing takes place. That will stop the no shows

    Roger  Mellie

    Have you considered the admin involved?

  • icon

    "optional fees .... are not prohibited" What does that mean ? Can a tenant offer to pay an increased fee of say £200 pcm to enable them to keep a pet at the property ????

    Theodor Cable

    No amount of money will persuade me to allow pets of any kind.
    It always ends in serious trouble for the LL.

  • icon
    • D G
    • 10 August 2021 09:48 AM

    Er yes Mr & Mrs Tenant, the front door is optional, there is a £50 pcm fee for that, oh you want the windows fitted as well......

    Theodor Cable

    Pah! You want a roof too?

  • Kieran Ryan

    So we can charge a £180 +VAT as 'Viewing Charges' when tenants take a property???


    I think what CTSI is trying to say, is that landlords and agents cannot insist on making charges, but if a tenant makes an offer to pay for extras (eg viewing, pets etc) , there is nothing to prevent the agent or landlord from accepting. By making such a statement CTSI are opening a whole can of worms which agents will try to take advantage of. It makes a complete mockery of the Act.

  • Matthew Payne

    Im not sure I understand where this TS spokesperson has developed his understanding of the Tenant Fees Act. It is very straighforward to understand. There are a list of prohibited payments and permitted payments, and the guidance deals with viewings specifically "You cannot charge for this as viewing a property is part of the process connected with granting a tenancy" No grey areas about unless a tenant chooses to, they don't get that option. I would be keen to hear where it says or even implies "but optional fees, like in this instance, are not prohibited.”

    Likewise, it was made clear by TS and other stakeholders when asked and tested back in 2019, that there are no exceptions, stick to the lists, hence to this day, pet owners cannot opt to pay a larger security deposit for example to reassure a landlord there is sufficient remedy at EOT. It will be interesting to see if this viewing charge is to set the precedent for an exceptions list, in which case no doubt the flood gates will quickly open.


    I agree Matthew, this statement appears to go completely against everything we were advised when the Act came into being. If the spokesman is correct why are we having to endure all the current confusion over Pets. If a tenant wants Pets and is willing to pay a premium (and the landlord is willing to accept) why should they not be allowed to agree whatever terms they want. Government interference in the sector is coming home to bite and you have to wonder if Trading Standards really know what is going on.

  • Roger  Mellie

    This ultimately will stand as much chance of getting off the ground as the space shuttle Challenger.

  • Eddie Edwards

    I'm a rental agent in Mclean VA just outside of DC. I charge a retainer fee which includes showings. I limit my showings to no more than 5 properties or more at "MY" decretion. From what I am reading you are not allowed to charge for showings? Charging a retainer might be a good way to deal with that?
    Thank you, EE

  • icon

    Estate agents up to their money making antics again. Living up to their reputation as sharks.


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