Wales:

Rent Smart Wales will help raise standards in the private rented sector, that’s according to Carl Sargeant MP, the Welsh Communities Secretary.

The controversial new measure intended to crack down on rogue landlords in Wales grants licences at an annual cost to landlords and agents who need to comply with the measures in the Housing (Wales) Act 2014.  The legislation gave landlords and agents managing properties in Wales one year to comply, which ended on the 1st of December 2016. The enforcement powers which involve fines for non-compliance are now active.

The service is hosted by Cardiff Council in partnership with 22 Welsh local authorities. The Welsh Ministers designated Cardiff Council as the Licensing Authority for the whole of Wales in 2015.

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The Cabinet Secretary was addressing Assembly Members on the eve of bringing in the new powers.

Carl Sargeant AM is a Welsh Labour politician and the Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children in the Welsh Government. Born in St Asaph, Denbighshire, Wales, Sargeant has represented the constituency of Alyn and Deeside since being elected to the National Assembly for Wales in 2003

Reported by businessnewswales.com Mr Sargeant said:

“Rent Smart Wales Will Protect Tenants and Raise Standards”

“Tomorrow marks a significant milestone. Our Housing (Wales) Act 2014 included ground-breaking legislation designed to improve the private rented sector through the mandatory registration and licensing of all private landlords and agents.

“Registration will identify – for the first time – private landlords who let properties and where those properties are. Licensing includes a fit and proper person test and, importantly, training for those who directly let and manage properties. Ensuring landlords and agents are fully aware of their responsibilities raises standards, and makes the sector a more attractive proposition.

“96% of those attending the training sessions have said it would make them better landlords, which is precisely what we are trying to achieve. There are benefits for landlords and tenants alike.

“The scheme will also reduce the scope for poor landlords to neglect their responsibilities and for rogue landlords to abuse their position without fear of consequences.”

Mr Sargeant also reminded landlords and agents of the need to register and apply for licences. By midnight on Monday November 21st it was claimed that over 55,000 private landlords had registered, another 12,000 had started the registration process and over 81,000 users had created accounts and are involved in the process of complying.

It was also said that no-one knows precisely how many private landlords there are, but it is estimated there are between 70,000 and 130,000 in Wales.

Sargeant went on to say:

“In twelve months, this is a significant achievement and I applaud the huge effort of the staff of Rent Smart Wales, which is run by Cardiff City Council on behalf of all local authorities. Recent months have seen a huge rush to register. As a result, Rent Smart Wales has taken longer than usual to respond to some calls and emails. I appreciate this has caused concern for some landlords who haven’t been able to complete the registration and licensing process.

“Rent Smart Wales has said that those who have started the process to comply will not face enforcement action if they have done all they reasonably can to comply. But, this must not be seen as an excuse to ignore the law. My message to private landlords is clear. You must take action to comply with the requirements of the law

“We know some private landlords will deliberately flout the law. They will be targeted and if they fail to comply, they will face the consequences, including fines, fixed penalties, restrictions on evicting tenants, and rent stopping and repayment orders.”

City of Cardiff Council Cabinet Member, Cllr Bob Derbyshire, said:

“I’m pleased that Wales is leading the way with the Rent Smart Wales Scheme, for which the City of Cardiff Council is the licensing authority.

“The private rented sector is an increasingly important option for many people and therefore it’s essential that we drive up standards so that landlords, agents and tenants are all aware of their rights and responsibilities.

“The scheme is already having a positive impact. Many of those who have completed training have said it will help them to become better landlords.

“When the deadline for registering has passed, our team of enforcement officers will be working in partnership with councils across Wales to enforce the new law, and priority will be those who have failed to take any step towards complying.

“My advice to anyone in that situation would be to contact Rent Smart Wales as soon as possible.”

Wales follows Scotland to be the first nations in the United Kingdom to require mandatory licensing of landlords. Although HMO landlords in England have faced mandatory licencing since the 2004 Housing Act, and some others within designated areas face special and additional licencing schemes, mandatory licensing is not universal. There are no plans under the current government to bring mandatory licensing to England at present.

Whilst responsible UK landlords generally support schemes which crack-down on the rogues and lead to higher letting standards, many fear that the additional costs and bureaucracy will result in more enforcement action.

If you need to register go here

Registration for private landlords (Scotland) here

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