The Welsh government announced the Renting Homes (Wales) Fees Bill is anticipated to receive Royal Assent in May. This means, that providing the timetable is kept, the ban on fees will commence on 1 September 2019.
The following is copied from a ARLA Circulation:
On Tuesday 12 June 2018 the Welsh Government introduced the Renting Homes (Fees etc) (Wales) Bill to ban fees charged in the private rented sector.
The Bill will ban tenants from being charged for anything other than Rent, Security Deposits, Holding Deposits, Utilities, Communication Services, Council Tax and Default Fees.
AMENDMENTS AT STAGE 3
Amendments that passed at Stage 3 were largely those tabled on behalf of the Welsh Government by the Housing and Local Government Minister, Julie James AM. The Minister also worked with the Welsh Conservatives and Plaid Cymru on some further clarifying amendments to the Bill.
Previously the legislation referred to enforcement activity being instigated by ‘a local housing authority’. This has been amended to ‘enforcement authority’, which allows for both local authorities and the licensing authority (Rent Smart Wales) to enforce the legislation. They will also have the power to bring criminal proceedings under the Bill.
Green Deal charges are included as a permitted payment under ‘Utilities’. Letting agents and landlords will be allowed to charge a contract-holder (or tenant) their agreed portion of Green Deal loan repayments as part of their contract (or tenancy).
Landlords and letting agents will not be allowed to charge exit fees at the end of a contract. Please note, this does not include an early Surrender of Tenancy or where the contract-holder leaves without providing the required notice.
Treatment of Holding Deposit
The legislation now clarifies that any payment of a Holding Deposit that exceeds the equivalent of one week’s rent will be a Prohibited Payment and must be refunded. The person who received the Holding Deposit must also be the person who repays it.
After a Holding Deposit has been paid by a potential contract-holder, the letting agent or landlord must not advertise the property to any other prospective tenants.
Late rent payments
Late rent payments are now specified as a payment in the event of a default. At the moment there are no details on whether this will be capped and we expect the Guidance from the Welsh Government to provide clarity on this once the Bill has passed the Senedd. Further specified Default Fees can be included by secondary legislation.
Notice for Possession
The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 has been amended to disallow letting agents and landlords from issuing a contract-holder with a Notice for Possession where they have been charged a prohibited payment and it has not been fully refunded. This also applies where a Holding Deposit has not been wholly refunded and has not gone towards rent or the Security Deposit. The same applies to the landlord’s break clause.
Stage 4 proceedings (passing of the Bill in Plenary) will take place in the Assembly on 27 March 2019. We will be updating the Fact Sheet and providing other resources in due course.