The clock is ticking down to the start of the tenant fee ban in Wales – but landlords and letting agents are still waiting to find out how the new rules will work.
So far, the Welsh Government has not published any guidance notes on the Renting Homes (Fees etc) (Wales) Act 2019, leaving property managers in the dark about how to operate.
The new law lays out which fees a tenant can be asked to pay from September 1 to start, renew or continue a private tenancy.
The ban applies to all fees paid by tenants except security deposits, charges relating to breaking the tenancy agreement, council tax, utility bills and the cost of a phone or broadband service.
Holding deposits paid to reserve a property while references and contracts are sorted out are capped at no more than a week’s rent.
Crime gangs target posh country rentals
Organised crime gangs are renting out posh country houses as fronts for drug dealing, human trafficking and sophisticated frauds, warn police.
Intelligence gathered by detectives suggests the gangs are looking to rent large houses in remote locations to keep their activities away from prying eyes.
While several police forces are asking landlords and letting agents to stay vigilant, Cheshire Police are appealing for information to help them catch the crooks.
“We have intelligence to suggest gangs are renting properties to house modern slavery victims and to operate call centres to defraud investors,” said a spokesman.
“By renting larger homes in mainly rural and concealed areas they are hoping that they can operate unnoticed.”
Fake tenant ID doubles in a year
Bogus rental applications are getting harder to detect as fraudsters are learning to print better false passports and other documents.
Tenant referencing firm LetRef says their specialist team picks out an average 13 fake documents a month from crooks looking to rent a private home – twice as many as last year.
“Preventing fraud before a tenant can rent your property requires vigilance and a good deal of experience. You could be putting yourself at risk if you are not carrying out checks and even with the best checks, it is easy to get conned,” said LetRef director Marc von Grundherr.