WARNING: Letting agency’s ‘tenancy break fee’ illegal, tribunal rules

Judge orders both a letting agency and its landlord to repay £957 to a tenant who left their property early.

courts tribunal purplebricks

A letting agent and landlord have been ordered to repay nearly £1,000 after charging an illegal ‘break of tenancy fee’.

The property tribunal made the order after deciding the fee charged by SB Lets of Brighton and Farbod Javad was illegal.

Tenant Matthew Ronald Stainer started a tenancy in July 2020 and paid a fee of £1,320 after deciding to leave the property at Caspian Heights, Saltdean, Brighton, (pictured) in September the same year.

Mr Stainer argued the fee was not only prohibited under the Tenant Fees Act 2019, but was also unreasonable, and the tribunal agreed.

“We are satisfied that the payment levied by the second respondent [SB Lets] is not a permitted payment under Schedule 1 of the Tenant Fees Act 2019 as the amount charged is unreasonable,” it said.

New tenant

Mr Stainer and his wife Tonya Mead found a tenant to replace them at the property, but accepted that SB Lets and Mr Javad had incurred some costs in drawing up a new tenancy agreement, referencing the tenant and registering a deposit.

The tribunal decided that £363 was a reasonable amount for these extra costs and deducted that sum from the amount repayable, making the total £957.

“The respondents have produced no explanation as to the amount charged. We have limited evidence including a schedule of the second respondents [SB Lets] ‘A Landlord’s Guide to Fees’. Nowhere in this document does it explain that one month’s rent may be charged to allow a tenant to vacate early.”

The tribunal refused to grant an order to reimburse Mr Stainer of his legal costs.

Read the judgement in full

Picture: Prime Location. Agent – King & Chasemore


  1. The courts are placing far too much value on sourcing a tenant and not enough on the application and turnaround process. £363 to conclude a tenancy and place a new one? Crazy talk. If courts carry on like this, agents and landlords will simply refuse to release a tenant early. Fair enough that there is a guide or form of cap to avoid abuse, but the current limitations are not financially viable.

  2. £363 for an early break saving the tenant 1000s? meanwhile leaving a house empty with no rent and tenant find fees to pay? – Bet they won’t let the tenant leave early again then – (costing the tenant 1000s instead). The more regulation, the more it backfires on tenants – which is why rents are so high and will only get higher!

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