The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) and Citizens Advice are at loggerheads over the proposed lettings fees ban in Wales.
Citizens’ Advice has published research that reveals tenants in Wales pay at least £3 million a year in lettings fees to move in, at an average of £178 per renter.
The network of advice shops, which is funded partly through government grants but also via partnerships with several charities including Shelter, says it wants all fees banned in Wales because they make it hard for tenants to manage their finances and land them in debt as they struggle to pay rent in advance and deposits when starting a tenancy.
“Banning letting agent fees would help thousands of renters across Wales, says Fran Targett, Director of Citizens Advice Cymru.
“Moving house can be expensive and renters are currently at the mercy of letting agents who set their own charges. Excessive fees can make renting a home prohibitively expensive. “Landlords can choose between letting agents, so they should be the ones who pick up the bill for any charges, not renters.
“In order for the ban for be effective, it must be enacted fully and without loopholes. This means that renewal fees and other charges must be included in the ban.”
But the RLA has said the the proposed ban would be a “dangerous move” in its submission to the Welsh government on the plans.
“With a major source of revenue eliminated, agents would have no choice but to pass on their overhead costs to landlords, who in turn would have no choice but to absorb this cost by raising rents,” it says.
Instead, the RLA wants to see fees capped; a defined set of services made standard for the price including referencing, credit checks and tenancy negotiation; and a tariff of charges for extra services such as guarantor checking and lost keys.
“With fees capped and a set of tariffs established via Welsh Government rule-making, tenants would no longer face any confusion about what they are paying for,” it says.
“[Our] proposals will help further the Welsh Government’s goals of continuing to professionalise the sector, render it more transparent to users, and increase access.”