Landlords have slammed the registration and licensing authority that regulates the private rented sector in Wales, taking the organisation to task for a range of failings.

Rent Smart Wales was set up five years ago and requires all landlords with properties within Wales to register and apply for a licence to operate or face a range of penalties from a £150 fixed fine to a criminal prosecution.

But the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) has investigated the organisation as tens of thousands of Welsh landlords prepare to renew their licences this year.

Rent Smart Wales: The Accountability Gap pulls no punches, accusing the organisation of a lack of transparency or oversight and also blaming the Welsh government, which created it, for a lack of strategy.

The report, which will make for difficult reading at the organisation’s Cardiff HQ, also says it is too remote and that it has failed to engage with landlords, tenants or local authorities; is poor value for money and has failed to achieve many of its own objectives.

The NRLA also says Rent Smart Wales prefers chasing bureaucratic compliance to improving standards, and often duplicates the licensing work of local authorities.

Recommendations for improvement include an annual report into the performance of Rent Smart Wales, that decision making on political and operational grounds should be separated and that its role should be integrated into a wider PRS strategy for Wales.

The NRLA representative in Wales, Calum Davies, says: “We believe there has been insufficient scrutiny of RSW – an incredibly powerful body considering how much regulatory and prosecutorial power it wields – and felt a duty to fill that evidence gap.

“What is clear from that research was a lack of transparency as to how decision-making within the organisation is conducted and who is politically accountable for decisions that affect over hundreds of thousands across Wales.”

Read Rent Smart Wales’ rebuttal of the NRLA’s criticisms.


  1. RSW is clearly inadequate.

    But at least they have tried.
    It should now be that a National LL licensing scheme be rolled out.
    Any LL failing to obtain a licence to be subject to RRO.
    No excuses.

    If you want to be a LL you will need a National licence.

    Allow Councils who would administer the scheme to keep licence income.
    Abolish all other licence schemes.
    The licence to be no more than £100 per property for 5 years.

    There are about 9 million rental properties.
    9 million x £100 should be sufficient for councils to administer the licence scheme.

    A National LL licensing scheme would detect the millions of fraudulent tenancies which is why it will never happen.

  2. RSW treats all landlords and agents as dimwits and criminals. Most people in the rental sector act professionally. These people have had to pay through the nose blanket charges to attempt to make up for the bad landlords or agents. And what has really changed in the rental sector except for lots more paperwork and RSW getting hoodles of fees in? It may not be a bad thing for tenants getting more rights but that could have been done without RSW, and all the extra costs. Because guess what, the tenant ultimately pays because rents have to rise to cover all these costs. If tenants are struggling to pay the rent then start looking at all the costs the landlord has to pay. It goes hand in hand.

  3. Yesterday, I was contacted by RSW to inform me that my landlord licence had expired and that I could no longer conduct letting or management activities on any rental property in Wales, and if I was to do so, I would be committing an offence.
    However, my application for my new landlord licence was submitted on 10th November, 2021, and receipt of my payment was confirmed by RSW on that date. Having contacted RSW by phone today, they have now admitted that their online system was at fault and my licence application will indeed be processed, hopefully next week. I won’t hold my breath!
    I would be interested to know if any others have had similar problems. As far as I can see, RSW doesn’t seem to be fit for purpose. An example of the Welsh Government trying to get one up on Westminster, just for the sake of it.

  4. I had exactly the same problem. The setup is run by Stasi in South Wales. They have upset my husband so much he wants to withdraw from the rental market altogether, but where would our tenants go? With new contractual obligations on the cards for July 2022 I fear I’m fighting a loosing battle.


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