Last November the Welsh Government’s Rent Smart Wales legislation became law, requiring all landlords in Wales to be registered and licensed.
The scheme is designed to raise standards in the private rented sector and root out rogue landlords and agents.
It will also help raise awareness among all parties – landlords, agents and tenants – of their rights and responsibilities.
Landlords now have just six months to comply with the legislation before enforcement begins on 23 November.
If you are a landlord and have not yet taken action, here is what you need to know and what you have to do.
What does Rent Smart Wales mean for me?
Private sector landlords have been required to be registered and licensed since the Rent Smart Wales legislation became law last November. They were given a year to comply without fear of legal action.
If you offer to market or rent out a dwelling in Wales, on either an assured or regulated tenancy, you must register.
Licensing applies either to the landlord or agent (or both) depending on who carries out defined letting and management activities or work at a rental property in Wales.
To get a licence you must be adequately trained and declare yourself ‘fit and proper’.
However, if you use a lettings agency, such as Serenliving, to manage your properties then you don’t need a landlord licence as the agency staff will have undergone the training and will hold an agent licence on your behalf.
How do I apply and how much does it cost?
Landlords can register and apply for a licence online at https://www.rentsmart.gov.wales or on a paper application form.
Online registration costs £33.50 and a paper application costs £80.50, while an online licence application costs £144 and a paper application costs £186. In both cases the higher fee for paper applications covers the extra time it takes to process.
Both registration and the licence will be valid for five years and there will be further fees for renewal of each.
Why do I need training?
Training is an essential part of the licensing process for landlords and agents.
The requirement can be met in a number of different ways, but the easiest is a one-day course that covers the main aspects of renting and managing private rented accommodation.
You can attend Rent Smart Wales training or approved training offered by authorised trainers.
What if I miss the deadline?
You will face legal action. A range of penalties can be enforced either by the licensing authority or a local authority, including rent repayment orders, fixed penalty notices, rent stopping orders and summary convictions (with fines).
So as you can see it really is important to take action sooner rather than regret it later. Not only could you face legal and financial penalties if you fail to act, but your professional reputation as a landlord could also be at risk.