Thousands of Welsh landlords were today warned they faced breaking the law if they failed to register for a new licensing scheme within the next six weeks.
There are around 185,000 rental properties in Wales, and landlords must sign up to the new Rent Smart Wales scheme aimed at rooting out rogue landlords by November 23.
Legal property expert Lauren Bryan said the new scheme was developed as part of the Housing (Wales) Act 2014, which looked to improve the supply, quality and standards of housing in Wales.
“The Act will see the introduction of a compulsory registration and licensing scheme for all landlords and letting and management agents, which will be set by Rent Smart Wales.
“By 23 November all landlords must be registered with Rent Smart Wales, but figures this week show that under 25% of landlords are believed to have done so.
“The remainder, if they fail to register, will be breaking the law and could faces fines and other penalties including rent stopping orders and the cancelation of the licence,” she said.
Lauren, a litigation executive with law firm FBC Manby Bowdler in Shrewsbury, said there had been criticism about the complexity of the registration process and landlords should seek advice if they are concerned about not being fully compliant.
“Registering as a landlord is £33.50 if completed online and £80.50 on paper, with the money put towards maintaining the scheme. Following registration, the landlord must assess if they require a landlord’s licence. A licence is required, for example, if a landlord does not use an agent to manage the selection of tenants and day to day running of the property, or if the landlord receives more than £250 a year in rent. Each case is individual and Rent Smart Wales can advise on this.”
Lauren added that training as part of the new legislation will ensure that all landlords are suitably trained as ‘fit and proper’ landlords.
“The licence issued will last for five years and all licence holders are required to comply with the Code of Practice containing letting and management standards. The licensing authority will also be able to include other conditions as applicable. Licences can be revoked if a condition is breached or if the landlord is no longer considered ‘fit and proper’.”
Figures from the Welsh Government last week revealed that only 25,353 landlords, believed to be fewer than 25 per cent of landlords in Wales, had registered.
Lauren said the registration scheme comes ahead of a new law focusing on tenancy contracts due to come into force in the coming months, on a date not yet finalised by Ministers.
“The Renting Homes Wales Act applies to residential properties in Wales, creating two forms of occupation contract - a standard contract and a secure contract – and sets out what must be included in every occupation contract.
If you would like further information or advice on either the Rent Smart Wales scheme or the new Renting Homes Wales Act, Lauren can be contacted on 01743 266261 or via L.Bryan@fbcmb.co.uk.