The countdown has begun for a new law affecting all landlords and agents in Wales being introduced this autumn. In order to improve letting and management standards for people who rent private accommodation in Wales, the Welsh government is introducing a new registration and licensing scheme, a key part of the Housing (Wales) Act 2014.
This law will mean that everyone who owns and rents out private property in Wales will have to register with the central licensing authority via Rent Smart Wales. All managing landlords and agents will also have to obtain a new type of licence.
This new legislation will see Wales become the first country in the UK where managing landlords and agents are obliged to undertake training to ensure they are aware of their rights and responsibilities.
What will happen from this autumn?
- All private landlords will be legally required to register with Rent Smart Wales and will also have to register their properties.
- Whoever manages the property – the landlord or an appointed agent – must become licensed; they must demonstrate they are ‘fit and proper’ to hold a licence and undertake approved training.
- Once they are part of the Rent Smart Wales scheme, landlords and agents must keep their information up-to-date and comply with all requirements.
The benefits of having a centrally managed registration and licensing scheme are significant and will ultimately improve the standards of letting and management practice in the private rented sector by:
- ensuring landlords and agents are aware of what is required;
- raising tenants’ understanding of their rights and responsibilities;
- providing accurate information on the private rental sector in Wales;
- providing the opportunity for people to verify that the landlord of a property is registered, and either licensed or has a licensed manager in place;
- providing landlords and agents with regular updates on their duties and responsibilities and providing support to ensure tenancies run smoothly;
- ensuring landlords use agents that are professional, knowledgeable and licensed.
In autumn 2015, the Rent Smart Wales scheme will begin, and the registration process and licence application can then be completed by landlords. It is anticipated that the majority will undertake the process online; they will also be able to apply in hard copy.