A tenants’ fees ban was introduced in England on 1st June 2019 for new residential tenancies. The one to be introduced in Wales will come into force on September 1 2019, if it receives Royal Assent. It will be similar to the English fees ban, but it has some important differences.
The new Welsh legislation will make it illegal for letting agents and landlords to charge anything other than permitted payments, including rent, security deposits, holding deposits, utilities, council tax, green deal charges, payment in default (when a tenant breaches a contract), and payments in respect of council tax, utilities, a television licence, or communication services.
It also means that tenants cannot be charged for such things as an accompanied viewing, receiving an inventory, signing a contract, or renewing a tenancy.
The Welsh Government says that the new law will save tenants almost £200 per tenancy, but others in the industry disagree, arguing that in the longer term the charges will simply be replaced with higher rents.
The new law caps holding deposits paid to reserve a property before the signing of a rental contract to the equivalent of a week’s rent and creates provisions to ensure their prompt repayment. It will also give the Welsh Government the power, should it wish to use it in the future, to limit the level of security deposits.
Deputy Housing Minister and Local Government Minister Hannah Blythyn said:
“We understand that landlords and agents need time to make adjustments to their business models and practices in order to comply with the change. However, we have been clear that we want to see this important legislation come into force as soon as possible, in particular before students start their autumn term at Welsh universities.
“Providing the law receives royal assent, it will come into force on September 1 this year. We have already written to interested organisations to inform them of this, and we are keen that tenants in Wales are aware of their rights under the Act.”