A fixed-term 6 month joint AST agreement ends in April 2020. The agreement had three tenants listed on it. One tenant is leaving (former tenant) two are remaining.
The former tenant notified the Letting Agent 2 months prior to the tenancy agreement ending that they would be leaving the property. The two remaining tenants have found a replacement tenant and notified the Letting Agent that they had found a replacement tenant.
The Letting Agent has requested the new tenant pay a "Tenant Replacement Fee". The new tenant queried this as the Tenant Fee Act 2019 permits letting agents to charge up to £50 for a "variation, assignment or novation of a tenancy", however as the agreement ends prior to them moving in, they feel that this does not apply and that it is classed as a tenancy renewal. The Letting Agent says they can charge thebfee regardless of the tenancy ending as the former tenant is being replaced.
Under the Tenant Fee Act 2019 a Letting Agent can not charge fees for setting up nor renewing contracts.
Is the tenant or the Letting Agent correct? Is a Letting Agent permitted to charge a "Tenant Replacement Fee" at the start of a new contract?