The Welsh government has now also introduced a tenant fees bill which is similar to that introduced in England.
A summary of the provisions of The Renting Homes (Fees etc.) (Wales) Bill:
- tenants will no longer be charged for an accompanied viewing, receiving an inventory, signing a contract, or renewing a tenancy;
- letting agents and landlords will only be permitted to charge fees relating to rent, security deposits, holding deposits, or when a tenant breaches a contract;
- a regulation-making power will be introduced to limit the level of security deposits, no set cap is yet set out in the legislation;
- A cap equivalent to a week’s rent will be set for holding deposits used to reserve a property before the signing of a rental contract and create provisions to ensure their prompt repayment;
- Agents found to be in breach will be issued a £500 fixed penalty notice and, if it is not paid, prosecuted in a Magistrates Court and face unlimited fines.
The provisions in this Bill are largely similar to those introduced in England. However, whilst further changes may occur before the Bill comes into force at this stage the only difference to highlight is that related to enforcement. The fine under the Welsh Bill is much smaller and the process if it is not paid, much simpler. The bill introduced in England will see civil penalties of £5,000 imposed and where a second breach occurs within 5 years the breach will be considered a criminal offence with an unlimited fine. Local authorities that may elect not to prosecute also have the option of imposing a fine of up to £30,000.
The Bill is likely to go through some changes before it comes into force, updates of this post will therefore follow.