The Welsh Assembly Government have unveiled a new scheme which will create a nationwide Welsh Landlord Register scheme.
These new powers, according to the Welsh Assembly Government will force landlords and agents to “comply with the new law by approaching the licensing authority and registering or applying for a licence. This is delivered through the Rent Smart Wales portal” (Welsh Gov, 2015). The new legislation will mean self-registration will be prevalent within the Welsh landlord experience. New and old landlords are required to register with Rent Smart Wales scheme. However, if they are letting a property through a lettings agency who are managing on their behalf, then the lettings agency will be the ones required by law to register. That said, both landlord and agent will be required to undertake training on the scheme.
The Residential Landlord Association, “Almost two thirds (65 per cent) of tenants in Wales are unaware of new laws to register and license landlords and letting agents in the country” (RLA, 2015). Furthermore, “Rent Smart Wales, which launches today (23rd November 2015), is the name of Wales’ new mandatory registration and licensing scheme for landlords and agents. The scheme will require all landlords to register their properties and undergo training to obtain a licence if they wish to self-manage. Letting and management agents will also be required to become licensed. Landlords and agents will have 12 months from 23 November in which to comply with the new legislation” (RLA, 2015). According to the RLA, the Rent Smart Wales scheme will create a cumbersome nationwide administrative drain and will cost landlords and agents money though licence fees and training costs. The Welsh Assembly Government has yet to release information regarding the scheme’s cost and any evaluation on the outcomes of the scheme.
ARLA Wales has offered its membership a full breakdown of what the Welsh scheme will mean to them as landlords and lettings agents. They believe the scheme will result in improved standards in the practice and application of management principles within the private rented sector across Wales. Furthermore, ARLA believes the scheme raises awareness of individual rights by both landlords and agents as singular legal parties. Finally, ARLA believes the scheme will empower tenants to be more proactive in the relationship between landlord, letting agent and tenant.
However, the new scheme, ARLA argues will mean some changes in the bureaucratic function of being a landlord and agent. These new processes will result in:
- “all private landlords who have a rental property in Wales must register themselves and the addresses of their rental properties in Wales
- Landlords who undertake defined letting or property management activities at a rental property in Wales must apply for a licence. If a landlord instructs an agent to do such work on their behalf, it is that agent who must become licensed
- In order to get a licence a person must be adequately trained, and also declare themselves ‘fit and proper’
- Licensing training will be offered through Rent Smart Wales or people can choose to attend Rent Smart Wales approved training courses delivered by other bodies” (ARLA Wales, 2015)
The new landlord registration will affect nearly 300,000 landlords in Wales. As the RLA has stated above with many landlords unaware of the changes and the training involved, as similarly outlined by ARLA, these changes will affect how landlords and lettings agents undertake their lettings processes. In addition, the bureaucratic issues of running a nationwide scheme have yet to be completely fixed. Issues will arise from this scheme but landlords must start planning now.