The “Renting Homes (Fees etc.) (Wales) Act 2019” was introduced on 1 September 2019. The Act makes it illegal in Wales to charge anything other than certain explicitly permitted types of payment. A similar (but different) Act came into effect on 1st June 2019 in England (Tenant Fees Act England)
The Act was introduced against the backdrop of other forthcoming changes in Welsh tenancy law (expected by 2021).
The new law only allows you to charge for the rent, refundable security deposit, refundable holding deposit, utilities, communication services, green deal charges, TV licence, council tax and fees for default or breach of rental contract.
Anything that is not explicitly permitted under the Act should be considered as prohibited. This means, for example, that fees for credit & reference checking, check-in, check-out, inventory checking, amending a tenancy agreement, or fees for change of sharer are not allowed.
Unlike in England, the new fees act has no specific limits for security deposits nor limits on payments for breach of rental agreement. These may be set at a later date.
The rules do not apply to tenancies in Wales dated earlier than 1 September 2019. New tenancies or renewals from that date must comply with the fee ban.
Landlords may ask prospective tenants in Wales for a holding deposit of up to one week’s rent to reserve a room or property. The landlord must provide certain information on the purpose and rules of the deposit. The landlord must also refund the deposit within 7 days of the rental starting, the landlord withdrawing, or the agreed rental deadline passing.
The landlord may only retain the holding deposit if the tenant provides false or misleading information, withdraws or doesn’t take reasonable steps to start the tenancy.
Breaching the Renting Homes (Fees etc.) (Wales) Act 2019 would constitute a criminal offence punishable by unlimited fine. An enforcement officer may issue a fixed penalty notice of £1,000 as an alternative to criminal proceedings.
The new rules prohibit charging an administration for a change of sharer in a joint tenancy in Wales. This is different to the new rule in England.
If there is an explicit term in the rental agreement for loss of keys, this amount can be charged as a payment in default of contract.
More Information on the Tenant Fees Act in Wales
Welsh Ministers have the power to add futher detail to the Act. Keep an eye on the Welsh Government web site for further guidance and interpretation as it emerges.
- Welsh Government: Letting fees guidance for landlords & agents (August 2019)
- Welsh Government: Letting fees guidance for tenants (August 2019)
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