There could soon be thousands of Welsh residential landlords in breach of the law if they fail to carry out a new landlord registration procedure, introduced under the Cardiff government’s ambitious Wales-wide registration scheme.
The Rent Smart Wales scheme requires landlords to register and undergo training in the responsibilities and obligations of a landlord, or use an agent that has registered and undergone training itself.
The latest available figures released by the Welsh Government show that so far, 6 weeks before the registration deadline, fewer than 25% of landlords have completed the process and actually been granted a licence.
The Welsh Government says it created the Rent Smart scheme to tackle the bad landlords who give the private rented sector (PRS) a bad name in Wales.
Registration can be initiated through a special government website and takes just a few minutes, but the necessary training process for licensing can take about eight weeks, and most Welsh landlords have not yet made a move to do either.
The Rental Landlords Association (RLA) says it fears the result could be fewer landlords will be in a position to rent out houses unless they get registered, which would mean fewer houses to rent, pushing up rents in the process.
Registering for a licence, which lasts for 5 years, costs a landlord £33.50 when completed on-line or £80.50 on paper, regardless of the number of properties they let. The alternative for landlords is to pay for a letting agent. The payments for letting agents’ registration are £144 online and £186 on paper.
The Welsh Government says all the money raised will pay for running the scheme and for making sure landlords comply with the regulations. Those who do not comply will be issued with a fixed penalty or court fines.
The scheme will be managed by Cardiff City Council for the whole of Wales.
The Welsh Government said it will raise overall standards and improve the reputation of private rented housing which had been damaged by the actions of rogue and even criminal landlords and lettings agents.
The reaction from those landlords who have undergone the training has been largely positive, saying it will make them better landlords, though if the Scottish experience is repeated in Wales, it’s the rogues, the ones the scheme ultimately targets, who fail to register.
There are no plans to introduce a landlord registration scheme in England under the present government, though Labour have said they would do it.
Rent Smart Wales Registration Deadline… https://t.co/6R0CMaJPrn
— LandlordZONE (@LandlordZONE) October 20, 2016