Landlords and letting agents could soon be banned from charging fees to private tenants in Wales under plans for a new law.
The Renting Homes Bill will ban fees charged for viewing properties, receiving an inventory, signing a contract or renewing a tenancy.
Under the new rules, landlords and letting agents will only be permitted to charge fees relating to rent, tenancy deposits or when a tenant breaches a contract.
Anyone in breach of the new rules could face a £500 fixed penalty, unlimited fines and possibly the loss of their landlord licence.
Letting agents’ fees were banned in Scotland in 2012, while the UK government pledged to ban them in England during last year’s Queen's Speech, and so it was perhaps inevitable that the Welsh government would follow suit.
Housing and Regeneration minister Rebecca Evans believes that the proposed changes will make things fairer for tenants.
She said: “In recent years we have seen a significant increase in the number of people renting in Wales. The private rented sector now accounts for 15% of all housing.
“This Bill builds on the work we have already done here in Wales through the Housing and Renting Homes Acts to ensure that those wishing to rent in the private sector can expect high standards, fair treatment and transparency.
“Fees charged by letting agents often present a significant barrier to many tenants, especially those on lower incomes.
“The Bill will mean that tenants no longer face significant upfront fees when they start renting. In most instances they will only need to pay their monthly rent and a security deposit.
“No longer will tenants be charged for an accompanied viewing, receiving an inventory or signing a contract. No longer will they be charged for renewing a tenancy. And no longer will they have to pay check out fees when they move out.
“I want renting to be a positive and widely accessible choice for people and this Bill will ensure that rental costs become more reasonable, affordable and transparent.”