LETTING agents and landlords in Wales could be banned from charging tenancy fees if new rules come into force.

The new Welsh Government legislation will ban charges for viewings, receiving inventories, signing contracts or renewing tenancies. A maximum will also be put on the amount a landlord can demand as a security deposit, while deposits handed over before a contract is signed will be capped at the equivalent of one week's rent - and must be repaid promptly.

Fees charged by letting agents can be a significant burden on renters, often running to hundreds of pounds.

Landlords and letting agents will still be able to charge fees relating to rent, deposits and when a tenant breaches a contract.

Similar legislation covering England was presented last year, but is yet to come into force, while letting agents have been banned from charging fees in Scotland since 2012.

The Renting Homes (Fees etc.) Wales Bill will also allow for anyone requesting illegal fees to be fined, with councils able to prosecute through Magistrates Court if these are not paid. A conviction for charging illegal fees will come with an unlimited fine, and will be taken into account by rent Smart Wales when considering whether to grant or renew a licence.

Announcing the plans, housing minister Rebecca Evans said: “In recent years we have seen a significant increase in the number of people renting in Wales.

"The private rented sector now accounts for 15 per cent of all housing.

“This bill builds on the work we have already done here in Wales through the Housing and Renting Homes Acts to ensure that those wishing to rent in the private sector can expect high standards, fair treatment and transparency."

She added: “Fees charged by letting agents often present a significant barrier to many tenants, especially those on lower incomes.

“The bill will mean that tenants no longer face significant upfront fees when they start renting.

"In most instances they will only need to pay their monthly rent and a security deposit.

“No longer will tenants be charged for an accompanied viewing, receiving an inventory or signing a contract. No longer will they be charged for renewing a tenancy. And no longer will they have to pay check out fees when they move out.

“I want renting to be a positive and widely accessible choice for people and this bill will ensure that rental costs become more reasonable, affordable and transparent.”