Welsh Government have announced a Bill banning fees charged in the private rented sector.
The private rented sector in Wales now accounts for 15% of all housing and Government have said they intend the Bill will make things simpler and fairer for tenants.
The Renting Homes (Fees etc.) (Wales) Bill will:
- ensure tenants are no longer charged for an accompanied viewing, receiving an inventory, signing a contract, or renewing a tenancy
- permit letting agents and landlords to only charge fees relating to rent, security deposits, holding deposits, or when a tenant breaches a contract
- provide a regulation-making power to limit the level of security deposits
- cap holding deposits to reserve a property before the signing of a rental contract to the equivalent of a week’s rent and create provisions to ensure their prompt repayment
- create a clear, simple and robust enforcement regime for when offences occur.
- The enforcement regime will allow for fixed penalty notices to be issued against anyone requiring a prohibited payment; if penalties are not paid Local Housing Authorities can prosecute offences through the Magistrates Court. Convictions for an offence could result in an unlimited fine, and will be taken into account by Rent Smart Wales when considering whether to grant or renew a licence.
Commenting on the announcement, NALS CEO Isobel Thomson, said:
“Welsh government have stated that fee charged by letting agents often present a significant barrier to many tenants, especially those on lower incomes. However, we believe any fee ban will actually drive rents up. As in England, we do not believe this Bill will achieve Welsh Government’s aims of making renting simpler and fairer for tenants.”