The Welsh Assembly has considered amendments to the legislation that will ban most fees charged by letting agents and landlords to tenants this week.
The Renting Homes (Fees etc) (Wales) Bill, as amended, was agreed by members.
It will now progress to Stage 4 for a final debate in the plenary on Wednesday 27th March, before it receives Royal Assent and passes into law.
RLA campaigning- a timeline
The Renting Homes (fees etc) (Wales) Bill wants to ban all fees paid by tenants to landlords and agents when tenancies are created – excluding ‘permitted payments’ such as rent and security deposits.
The RLA has been heavily active in the progression of this Bill, which was formally introduced to the Assembly last year, by the former Housing and Regeneration Minister, Rebecca Evans AM.
In June 2018, RLA Director for Wales Douglas Haig gave evidence on the Renting Homes (Fees etc.) (Wales) Bill to the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee in Cardiff.
In November last year, the RLA responded to a consultation which was run by the Welsh Government, on the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 – regulations relating to Supplementary Provisions.
The RLA has also met with several AMs to discuss the details of the Bill, and earlier this year, ahead of the stage three debate of the Bill, the RLA encouraged members to write to their AMs about the amendments to the bill.
What the RLA has campaigned for
- A two-tier system of fines, one for agents and one for individual landlords.
- Changes to the wording of the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 so that landlords are not punished for the actions of third parties – for example if an unauthorised third party charged a fee without the landlord knowing.
- Permission for landlords to keep holding deposits if they have carried out checks on tenants only to find they cannot legally rent in Wales.
When could fees be banned in Wales?
The Renting Homes Wales Act will now go to stage 4, and once it passes this stage, it will await Royal Assent. No concrete date has been set for the Act to come into force, but the RLA will update members when there is more information available on this.
Tenant fee ban in England
The Tenant Fees Act in England received Royal Assent last month, and it will come into force on 1st June 2019, initially applying to new tenancies and renewals, excluding statutory and contractual periodic tenancies that arise after the Tenant Fees Act comes into force. After one year the ban in England will attach to pre-existing tenancies and clauses that charge fees in them will become ineffective. If a landlord or agent takes a prohibited payment after that date they will have 28 days to return it or be considered in breach of this legislation. You can read more about the Tenant Fees Act in England by reading the RLA’s guidance here.