ARLA Propertymark and the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) have written a joint letter to Carl Sargeant AM, the Welsh Communities Secretary, to press for a meeting to discuss the implications of the UK Government’s decision to ban letting agent’s fees to tenants and how any subsequent ban in Wales would affect the sector as a whole.
The issue of banning letting agent’s fees in Wales was raised again by Assembly Members during Oral Questions in the Senedd on 8 March 2017. Mike Hedges AM asked whether the Cabinet Secretary would provide an update on Welsh Government proposals regarding letting agent fees. Mr Sargeant responded by saying, “I’m very concerned that fees charged by letting agents are placing a disproportionate burden on tenants. I hope to be able to announce shortly how we as a Government propose to respond to this matter.”
In the letter to Carl Sargeant, ARLA Propertymark and the RLA highlighted the significant number of common concerns from both letting agents and landlords – most notably a reduction in the quality of service provided if money is taken away from the sector. This includes the new legislation brought in by the Welsh Government meaning that landlords and letting agents managing property in Wales must be registered and licensed with Rent Smart Wales.
The private rented sector is now the largest housing tenure outside of owner-occupation and is set to grow. Therefore, the services that landlords and letting agents provide will become even more important.
Furthermore, under Rent Smart Wales, if a letting agent fails to comply with the conditions of their licence, which includes clearly advertising their fees to both tenants and landlords, they would put themselves at risk of losing their licence. Without a licence, they would be unable to continue operating as a letting agent in Wales.
ARLA Propertymark will continue to work across the sector to ensure that politicians listen to the industry and follow the evidence. We hope that Mr Sargeant will engage with us to understand fully the importance of any future decision around banning fees and the effect this would have on letting agents, landlords and tenants in Wales.