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Buy to let investors in Wales could soon be banned from levying tenant fees on private tenants in Wales, under plans for a new law.
The Renting Homes Bill will ban tenant fees that are charged for services such as viewing properties, receiving an inventory, signing a contract or renewing a tenancy. As part of the new ruling, landlords and letting agents will be permitted to charge fees only when they relate to rent, tenancy deposits or when a tenant breaches a contract.
Anyone found to be breaching the new rules is likely to face a penalty fixed at £500 as well as unlimited fines and the potential loss of their landlord licence.
Scotland saw letting agents’ fees banned in 2012, while the UK government promised to ban them in England last year during the Queen’s Speech. It is thus unsurprising that Wales have followed suit.
Housing and Regeneration minister Rebecca Evans spoke out about the proposed changes, which she believes will make things fairer for tenants.
She said: ‘In recent years we have seen a significant increase in the number of people renting in Wales. The private rented sector now accounts for 15 per cent of all housing. This Bill builds on the work we have already done here in Wales through the Housing and Renting Homes Acts to ensure that those wishing to rent in the private sector can expect high standards, fair treatment and transparency. Fees charged by letting agents often present a significant barrier to many tenants, especially those on lower incomes. The Bill will mean that tenants no longer face significant upfront fees when they start renting. In most instances they will only need to pay their monthly rent and a security deposit.’
She continued: ‘No longer will tenants be charged for an accompanied viewing, receiving an inventory or signing a contract. No longer will they be charged for renewing a tenancy. And no longer will they have to pay check out fees when they move out. I want renting to be a positive and widely accessible choice for people and this Bill will ensure that rental costs become more reasonable, affordable and transparent.’