STA, 1 July 219 - A bill to limit commission fees for renting real estate and other costs which real estate agencies can charge their clients, was endorsed at committee level on Monday, although MPs from left and right were reserved about limiting "business initiative". The cabinet supports the opposition-sponsored bill, but realtors are outraged.
The Left, which supports the minority government, filed the changes to the law on real estate agencies in June to improve the status of tenants but also landlords.
Under the changes, landlords would fully pay the commission fee charged by a real estate agency for a service commissioned by them.
This means tenants would no longer shoulder part of the fee, which the Left deems fair, since they have to pay a down payment and the rent.
A cap would also be imposed on the commission fee that can be charged by apartment rental agencies to landlords. The capped amount would correspond to one monthly rent, but would not go lower than 150 euro.
The Left believes tenants in apartments rented out at market prices should benefit the most since they will no longer have to pay commission fees for the services they have not commissioned and since landlords would be encouraged to rent out their apartments for longer periods.
The bill also introduce EU rules in acquiring qualifications for a real estate agent. As Left leader Luka Mesec told the Infrastructure, Environment and Spatial Planning Committee, Slovenia had already received a warning about a delay from the European Commission.
State Secretary at the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning Aleš Prijon said the bill was in line with the government's housing policy, especially in that it protected tenants.
A similar view was expressed by the Consumer Protection Association, whose Jana Turk said it improved consumer protection in the rental market.
On the other hand, representatives of real estate agents find it unimaginable that anyone would limit the price of a service available on the free market.
Boštjan Udovič from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) said there was enough competition on the market and citizens were obliged to use this service.
He said that less than 50% of the deals were made through real estate agents, which showed tenants were not forced to shoulder the commission fee for the service.
If the bill is passed, the GZS's chamber of real estate business will report Slovenia to the European Commission and probably ask the Constitutional Court to review it, he announced.
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