With 42 for, no abstentions and one against, the Renting Home (Wales) Bill passed its final hurdle last night.
The Welsh tenant fees ban is now an inevitability, and agents working in Wales need to continue with their preparations for a post-tenant fees world.
The Welsh Government believe that the Renting Homes (Wales) Bill will make things "simpler and fairer for tenants".
The bill will:
Provide a regulation-making power to limit the level of security deposits.
Ensure tenants are no longer charged for an accompanied viewing, receiving an inventory, signing a contract, or renewing a tenancy.
Cap holding deposits to reserve a property before the signing of a rental contract to the equivalent of a week’s rent and create provisions to ensure their prompt repayment.
Create a clear, simple and robust enforcement regime for when offences occur.
Permit letting agents and landlords to only charge fees relating to rent, security deposits, holding deposits, or when a tenant breaches a contract.
The Bill will receive Royal Assent in the coming weeks, before being passed into law and implemented in Autumn 2019.
Opening the debate yesterday, Housing and Local Government Minister, Julie James AM said:
"Subject to the passage of the Bill through this final stage and subject to Royal Assent being granted, I intend for the Act to be commenced by the autumn. At that point, we will have in place an Act making renting more attractive, an Act that will reduce the up-front costs of renting to a minimum, and an Act that has robust restrictions and enforcement arrangements in place to further address the behaviour of rogue agents and landlords".
Our advice to agents is to identify paper-heavy processes and adopt a digital-first policy. From printing copies of move-in packs or storing paper certificates, going digital will have an immediate effect to both your business processes and overheads from printing, paper and associated administration cost.
Use what you have. Your employees are your most valuable asset. Rather than immediately reducing headcount, use your employees to win new business whilst using technology to take care of the administration.
While the incoming lettings fee ban is certainly worrying for some in the industry, businesses that use tech to generate new opportunities and streamline their businesses are likely to come out on top.