A bill which could stop estate agents and landlords charging tenants letting fees is being debated in Parliament.
If the Tenant Fees Bill passes Parliament agents and landlords who charge these fees could be fined up to £5,000.
And landlords who breach the ban twice in five years could face criminal prosecution or a civil penalty of as much as £30,000.
A recent English Housing Survey suggested fees typically cost £223, but 2012 research by housing charity Shelter found that one in seven tenants pays more than £500.
Plans for a letting fee ban were first announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond in his November 2016 autumn statement, and the Conservative manifesto for this year's snap election promised to press ahead with the scheme.
Meanwhile, Communities Secretary Sajid Javid is launching a consultation on requiring letting and managing agents to be members of client money protection schemes, with the aim of giving tenants confidence that money paid in deposits is safe and that they can be compensated if it is not returned.
Mr Javid said: "This Government is determined to make sure the housing market works for everyone. Tenants should no longer be hit by surprise fees they may struggle to afford and should only be required to pay their rent alongside a refundable deposit.
"We're delivering on our promise to ban letting agent fees, alongside other measures to make renting fairer and increase protection for renters."