In this section:
Whether you are an experienced renter or embarking on renting for the first time, the following information about privately renting will be important for you to understand. If there are any additional sections that you think we should include then we will be pleased to hear from you. Please contact our Private Sector Development Officer Hannah@welshtenants.org.uk
Who is a private rental tenant?
A person who has decided to live in rented accommodation whose landlord has privately funded the dwelling as opposed to it being owned through a non-profit organisation; a social landlord such as the local authority (LA) or a registered social landlord (RSL) or a housing association (HA).
Who is a private landlord?
A property owner becomes a private landlord when they decide to rent/let a whole or part of a domestic property they have obtained through a lender, as an investment or through inheritance under the terms of a rental agreement. It is usual for a landlord to have a (part) mortgage in place to obtain a property on a buy to let basis and in some cases the landlord may also have other investors or a partner. It is also common for a landlord to nominate an agent as the main representative of the property, with the responsibilities of the agent being dependent upon the contract between the landlord and agent. It is good practice that responsibilities are clearly defined to the tenant at the beginning of the tenancy.
Although there are no formal qualifications needed to become a private landlord or an agent at this current time it is highly recommended that landlords seek accreditation within other professional bodies.
About the private rented sector
Private renting has become increasingly important here in Wales growing steadily since 2000. Private landlords currently make up approximately 14% of housing here in Wales. There are no exact figures on the composition of the sector; however the National Statistics Office (NSO) estimates the size to be around 185,000 properties. With an estimated 80,000 landlords and managing agents in Wales, this represents an average of 2.3 properties per landlord/managing agent.
The Private rented sector has been growing steadily since 1991 now making up approximately 14% of housing here in Wales while the trend appears to be still growing, with owner occupation declining. The increase in demand has been due to a number of factors, including affordability problems for first time buyers and the reduction in social housing stock, partly due to right to buy and social housing investment.
The sector has a higher vacant property rate than any other. It also has a significantly older stock profile but while unfitness has decreased through buy-to-let investment, it is still significantly higher than other sectors and has impacts on accidents and health budgets for Wales.
There is however, demand from private landlords themselves to work with local authorities and the government to assist them to invest, manage and improve information, advice, support and tenant involvement in the sector with consumer satisfaction within some groupings appearing to be of considerable concern.
Regulation of the sector
While local authorities have significant powers in relation to the sector in the form of their obligations under the Housing Act 2004, the sector is largely self-regulated through professional bodies managed by their members.
There are several professional bodies active in Wales with developed ‘codes of practice’ that their members are required to adhere to. Around a ¼ of private landlords belong to professional bodies. These organisations include:
- RLA (Residential Letting Agents) www.rla.org.uk
- NLA (National Landlord Association) www.landlords.uk 020 78408900 firstname.lastname@example.org
- NALS (National Approved letting Scheme) www.nalscheme.co.uk 01242 581712
People working in the sector also have a number of professional bodies that provide training and professional development in a number of housing management disciplines including:
- Chartered Institute of Housing www.CIHCymru.org 02920 761712 info@CIHCymru.org
- Royal Institute of Chartered surveyors (RICS) www.rics.org.uk
What are we doing to ensure private tenants have a voice?
There are a number of ‘groups’ that have already been developed and registered with the Welsh Tenants as members while many ‘individual tenants’ have received support and registered as associates and receive information via e-mailings.
We are also working with a number of local authorities to assist them to improve their engagement with private tenants and welcome their approach to ensuring they have a voice regarding the local authorities’ role in monitoring private landlords’ duties via environmental health, trading standards departments and housing options teams.
We are also working with a number of campaign groups across Wales, including unions and sector support bodies to provide better information to private renters.
Services we provide to tenants
- Provide tenants with up to date information on rights and responsibilities as a private tenant.
- Provide tenants with help and support to contact the landlord and let them know the housing problems.
- Support tenants to make the necessary changes so that those who do suffer with a bad landlord or letting agent can hold them to account.
- Guide tenants to other organisations that can help in other related cases.
- Send tenants regular updates and tenant information.