A landmark scheme commenced in Wales on 23rd November 2015, as all landlords and letting agents will be required to register as providers with Rent Smart Wales.
The scheme, first introduced as a voluntary programme will now be a statutory requirement with significant penalties for non- compliance. Talking about the scheme today Steve Clarke, Managing director of the Welsh Tenants said,
“the voluntary scheme had moderate success, attracting many of the good landlords across Wales, but now that the scheme is a mandatory provision, it is hoped that all landlords and their agents will register within 1 year all the properties that they let – if they don’t, there could be significant penalties’.
Private rented sector has an increasingly important role in the provision of rented homes to people who live and work in Wales. There are about 180,000 people renting privately across Wales with around 14,000 Houses of Multiple Occupation. Ensuring we know where these properties are and who lets them is vital to ensure that proper advice, support and information can be offered.
While much is made about the obligations and rights of tenants, the scheme will also ensure that a landlord and or their ‘nominated agents’ are also competent to manage properties they let. Welsh Tenants has also welcomed the requirement to be assessed as a ‘fit and proper’ person to manage a property.
Steve Clarke added, “you would not allow your children into a cab with an unlicensed cab driver, banned from driving, who doesn’t know the highway code and driving a car without an MOT certificate. So why would you allow the same for private renters. A poorly maintained home can be just as lethal as a poorly maintained cab service”.
Landlords and agents have one year to comply with their new legal obligations, without fear of legal action. Housing Minister Lesley Griffiths formerly launching the scheme says,
“the new registration and licensing scheme will prevent rogue landlords and agents from letting and managing properties in Wales. It will also raise awareness by landlords, agents and tenants of their respective rights and responsibilities”.
She added. “With around one in seven homes in Wales now privately rented, a strong sector with good working practices is absolutely vital.
“I am proud Wales is leading the way on improving professionalism across the private rented sector. Our new, landmark scheme will drive up standards by making Wales the first country in the UK where managing landlords and agents are required to undertake training to ensure they are clear on their responsibilities.
“The changes will prevent rogue, and even criminal, landlords and agents from being involved in the management and letting of properties. This will help to protect tenants in the private rented sector – including students, lone parents and young families.
“Rent Smart Wales will also support good landlords and agents by helping them keep abreast of their responsibilities and legal obligations, and raising the reputation of the sector as a whole.”
For further information about Rent Smart Wales visit their website or call Welsh Tenants