Letting agency fees will be banned by September 2019
President of Cardiff University Students’ Union, Fadhila Al Dhahouri will be working with the Welsh First Minister to eradicate fees
Cardiff Students’ Union President, Fadhila Al Dhahouri, has announced that she will be working alongside the Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford to completely ban letting agency fees before the next academic year of 2019/2020.
This decision was made on Monday at an event hosted by Cardiff University Students’ Union for the Governance of Wales Citizen’s Assembly, held in partnership with Citizens’ Cymru Wales to discuss wages and living standards.
The Welsh First Minister, Mark Drakeford participated in the event which had over 400 attendees from communities across Wales, and letting agency fees were a key topic of discussion as a number of Cardiff students led by Fadhila explained the unfair pressures they’ve faced after having to pay unjustified fees.
Fadhila, who moved to Cardiff to study from Oman, explained how she lived in university accommodation for four years before moving into a private studio flat. However, extra fees including a payment of two months rent upfront because she didn’t have a guarantor, meant she could barely afford to live.
Fadhila has said:
"There was no way I could ask any of my family as they're poor themselves. I cut back on lots of things. Whenever my friends asked if I wanted to go out, I couldn't. I had to down on my food and I lived on rice for a month. It affected my diet badly.
"It gives us students hardship in terms of whether we should be prioritising our studies or ensuring we're not going to be homeless or whether we feed ourselves.”
Some students had even been faced with the risk of becoming homeless due to the high cost of securing their accommodation, and many other non-students of all ages and backgrounds have shared similar experiences.
With letting agency fees clearing impacting the emotional and economic lives of students so seriously, Mark Drakeford approved the request by the Students’ Union to assure that letting fees would be prohibited in Wales by September.
Scotland banned letting agency fees in 2012, and England is already set to ban then from June this year, and so it only makes sense for them to be abolished in Wales soon. From survey data it is apparent that up to 19 per cent of letting agency revenue in Wales is from these extra charges given to tenants, which generates an annual revenue of £10 million a year.
Fadhila is now working with the First Minister to ensure this happens, as the bill permitting the new law is almost in its final stage of being passed. The new law will mean that a deposit at the start of a tenancy cannot exceed six weeks rent, and unexpected add ons for credit checks, inventories and references will be banned. If a letting agent or landlord ignores this and charges extra fees, they could face a penalty of £1,000.
Fadhila has added:
"We are delighted that Cardiff University students helped to secure this important legislative change not only for Cardiff Students but also people in every community in Wales."