The Secretary of State for Wales, Alun Cairns, has called for greater protections for Welsh tenants against unjust fees and rogue landlords.
Cairns wants to see Wales follow England’s lead and ban letting agents charging Welsh tenants fees, while he also wants to see the introduction of a range of measures designed to protect renters from unfair practices.
He explains: “Getting set up in a private tenancy can be eye-wateringly expensive. Not only must new tenants find thousands of pounds upfront for deposits and rent in advance, they also have to pay fees to letting agents for a range of administrative costs, which can often run into the hundreds of pounds.
“This has been going on for far too long and, today, the UK Government is taking a stand by giving tenants in England more power to challenge extortionate fees and poor treatment. Wales must not get left behind.”
He insists: “It is time that the Welsh government followed the example being set in England, and move quickly to protect tenants in Wales from unjust fees and rogue landlords.”
Calls to Protect Welsh Tenants from Unjust Fees and Rogue Landlords
In August, the Welsh government released a report claiming that there is “no compelling evidence” for Welsh tenants to pay upfront letting agent fees or renewal costs for existing tenancies, as “the large majority of the work undertaken by agents is work that the landlord would otherwise be doing themselves”.
Isobel Thomson, the Chief Executive of the National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS), has released a short statement in response to the calls: “NALS notes the Secretary of State for Wales’ call for the Welsh government to take measures to protect tenants in Wales from unjust fees and rogue landlords and agents.
“In relation to fees, we believe that the majority of agents in Wales charge a fair fee for a fair service, and we await the outcome of the consultation by the Welsh government on this issue.
“Wales already has full regulation of landlords and agents, and therefore the regulatory organisation, Rent Smart Wales, should by now be delivering the effective action necessary to ensure that tenants are offered the degree of protection they deserve and rogue landlords are exposed.”
At the same time, the Welsh Cabinet Secretary responsible for housing policy, Carl Sargeant, will be the headline speaker at a new conference on the future of the private rental sector in Wales.
With over 16% of households in Wales expected to be living in the private rental sector by 2025 – up from 8.4% in 2000 – the Future Renting Wales conference will provide landlords will everything they need to know about the future of the market.
Organised by the Residential Landlords Association (RLA), it will help landlords understand increasingly complex new laws and regulations, including Rent Smart Wales, the introduction of new standard tenancy agreements, and the new safety and minimum property standards that are on the horizon.
In addition to Sargeant, David Smith, the Policy Director of the RLA and legal adviser to the Welsh Assembly’s Renting Homes Bill committee, will address the conference on the implementation of the new laws, and what they will mean for landlords, Welsh tenants and their lettings businesses.
Anne Rowland, of Rent Smart Wales, will discuss the scheme and future direction of the operation, while other industry experts will update delegates about reforms to tax, energy efficiency standards and welfare reform, looking at how legislation from Westminster is being implemented in Wales. Exhibitors will also be on hand to offer advice and support to delegates.
The conference, on 30th November 2017, will be held at the Jury’s Inn, Cardiff and is open to anyone with an interest in private rental housing.
Douglas Haig, the Director of the RLA in Wales, who will also be speaking at the event, says: “This is a fantastic opportunity for delegates to hear from expert speakers, coming together to update them on best practice and the many forthcoming changes to the sector.”
Early-bird tickets start from just £20 for RLA members and £25 for non-members. They are available here.
Landlords and letting agents in Scotland must be aware of new tenancy rules being introduced in the coming weeks.