Landlords and letting agents face fee ban in Wales

Renting a private home in Wales is likely to become cheaper as lawmakers consider a letting fees ban.

A new bill has been published by the Welsh Assembly bringing the country into line with England and Scotland.

Upfront fees charged by letting agents and landlords were banned in Scotland in 2012.

England has followed suit with a ban expected to start in April 2019.

The Renting Homes (Fees etc.) (Wales) Bill is likely to become law in 2019.

Landlords and letting agents may not charge any fee relating to starting or renewing a tenancy that is not listed in the bill.

The allowed fees are expected to include security deposits to cover damages and holding deposits, while holding deposits are likely to be limited to one week’s rent.

Papers introducing the bill explain that private rented properties make up 15 per cent of homes in Wales, but upfront fees are making renting too expensive.

“Unregulated fees being charged to tenants by letting agents and others have been highlighted as the main barrier to many people accessing the market and good quality rented housing,” says the report.

“Tenants within the private rented sector spend a higher proportion of their income paying the costs of renting their homes than owner occupiers or those within social housing. The impact of additional costs is consequently greater. Action is therefore needed to restrict such costs to ensure the sector can be accessed by those needing or wishing to rent privately.”

The report also found that many fees were unfair.

“These issues included a wide variation in fees charged by letting agents for a particular service with no real justification for the variation; a lack of clarity on what exactly the fee covers; and a real lack of choice for potential tenants,” said the report.

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