Welsh landlords need to “rent smart”

A new scheme is in force for rented domestic properties in Wales. It means that landlords must be registered and licensed, and if they manage properties poorly or illegally they could lose their licence. The scheme is aimed at protecting tenants against unscrupulous landlords and poor quality properties.

The ‘Rent Smart Wales’ scheme administers the requirements for landlord registration and agent and landlord licensing under the Housing (Wales) Act 2014. Cardiff City Council has been chosen to administer the scheme for the whole of Wales and keep the register of landlords. This should make it easier for landlords, agents and tenants to access it. The central register also means that a landlord only has to complete one registration. If they manage their own properties, they need to apply for only one licence to cover them for the whole country.

The scheme is intended to raise awareness of the rights and responsibilities of landlords, agents and tenants. It is proposed that local councils will work closely with them to maintain high standards.

So, what does a landlord need to do? Firstly, they must have registered by 23 November 2016. They must provide their personal details (name, address, date of birth, email address and telephone number) and also the address of every property they let in Wales.

Every landlord who lets a property in Wales must register with the scheme, which can be done online. There is a fee to pay. If contact or property details change, the records must be updated.

Secondly, a landlord must be licensed if they manage the property themselves, such as organising repairs, collecting rent, finding and vetting prospective tenants. However, if a landlord uses an agent to manage the property, then it is the agent who must be licensed. There is another fee to pay to get a licence.

However, getting a licence is not wholly straightforward: landlords (or agents) must undertake training and pass an exam. The exam can be done online, and the pass mark is 70%. The licence holder must also be deemed a ‘fit and proper person’ and must comply with a Welsh Minister-approved Code of Practice containing letting and management standards in relation to rented properties.

All domestic landlords in Wales need to take notice of the new scheme and, if they have not done so, register and get licensed. If not, there is a draconian sanction: they may not be able to collect rent.

For more information and to find a training course: www.rentsmart.gov.wales