Fees – do I have to pay?
No. Under the Residential Tenancies Act, the landlord or agent can only charge you rent and bond (section 15). There are no fees mentioned anywhere in the legislation.
If you breach a term of your tenancy agreement and this causes the landlord a loss, you can be ordered to pay compensation. However, you don’t have to pay this unless/until the Tribunal agrees that you are in breach and has worked out the amount of the loss.
This means that you don’t have to pay any reinspection fees, late-payment fees or tenant changeover fees.
Perhaps the most common fee charged to tenants is a ‘break-lease fee’ or ‘reletting fee’ of one week’s rent. Unlike the other examples, there is a basis for tenants to pay some re-letting costs. If a tenant moves out early, a landlord can apply to the Tribunal under section 84 for compensation for the reasonable costs of advertising and giving the right to occupy the premises to another person. This amount is limited to one week’s rent. However, if the landlord or agent has only put one ad up and spent an hour showing the property and signing a new lease, you shouldn’t have to pay a whole week’s rent. You should ask the landlord/agent to show what they did to relet the property, how long it took, and a copy of their receipt for advertising (agents get bulk discounts for ads).
Also, under section 84(4) the Tribunal has to consider when the lease would have ended and the landlord would have had to pay advertising and re-letting costs anyway. So, it is misleading to say there is a break-lease fee when in reality there are a range of factors that could mean you owe less than a week’s rent. For information on other compensation for breaking the lease, see Tenancy Factsheet: Ending a Tenancy and Breaking a Lease.
If your agent sent you a letter or email telling you to pay a fee, and you authorise us to write to the agency or talk to the Office of Fair Trading about the fee, please email us a copy at email@example.com. Say in the email whether you permit us to use that information with the real estate agency or Fair Trading or both, and whether we can use the information in full or only the parts that won’t identify you.