What Does Rent Smart Wales Mean for Local Landlords?
The new landlord licensing scheme means that all landlords operating in the private rented sector are now required by law to be registered and in some instance will need to licensed too.
Labelled ‘Rent Smart Wales’, this is the name of the scheme for the registration and licensing requirements under Part 1 of the Housing (Wales) Act 2014; it applies to all landlords and their chosen agents.
From 23rd November 2015, landlords will be required to register their properties and apply for a license under the Rent Smart Wales registration scheme. Landlords have a window of 12 months to complete registration to avoid any action being taken against them.
Rent Smart Wales Code of Practice
A code of practice has been developed through the Rent Smart Wales scheme to help both landlords and agents to be prepared for the changes. Everyone who holds a licence under the Rent Smart Wales scheme must abide by this code of practice – click here for full details.
A registered landlord or agent who do not comply with the requirements outlined in the Rent Smart Wales Code of Practice runs the risk of losing their licence which in turn means would not be eligible to let or manage residential properties.
The aim of Rent Smart Wales, as outlined in the code of practice, is to halt bad practice in the industry, ensure that landlords and agents are all working to the same, correct standards and to improve the perceptions of the private rented sector.
What does it cost to register under the Rent Smart Wales Scheme?
The cost of registration for a landlord under the Rent Smart Wales Scheme is £33.50 if completed on-line and £80.50 if submitted on a paper application form. (The fee is higher for paper applications as these take more time to process).
This is the cost for each, individual landlord registration, irrespective of how many rental properties the landlord owns and rents out. However, a new registration must be completed for each different landlord arrangement that an individual landlord is involved with. For example, if a landlord has registered some properties in sole ownership, some as part of a joint landlord arrangement and further properties in company ownership, then three separate registrations would be required (and three sets of fees payable).
It is also advisable for all landlords and agents attend one of the accredited Rent Smart Wales courses which are currently running throughout the region. These courses usually last a day and cost from around £100 per person, though there are sometimes discounts for block bookings.
Landlords and agents who are looking to become licensed landlords will need to attend one of these courses as part of the licensing application process. The licence fees are currently £144.00 for online applications and £186.00 for a paper application.
What is the purpose of the legislation?
There are a number of positive reasons why landlord licensing has been introduced in both England and Wales. Firstly, it has been specifically designed to improve standards of letting and management practice in the private rented sector. The legislation has also been introduced to enable tenants to have access to more information about private rental landlords for verification purposes. By having a register of landlords, local authorities will, in the future, have more accurate information about the private rental sector to help with their own strategies for development.
Rent Smart Wales will also serve to raise awareness and provide clarity on the rights and responsibilities of landlords and their agent or tenants of their respective rights and responsibilities.
How do I know if I need to register as a landlord?
If you own residential property and rent it out (or have the intention to rent it out) to private tenants, then you are a landlord and are subject to this legislation which means you need to register as a landlord. When it comes to letting or estate agencies who let out a residential property in Wales on behalf of a private landlord, they will need to be licensed in order to represent the landlord.
In other words, even if you are landlord who uses the services of an agency, then you, as the landlord have to register under the scheme and the agency will need to be fully licensed. Landlords who manage their own properties, even if let to a friend or family members, or have any involvement in managing and maintaining the property, will need a licence too. Agencies, like Swansea-based McCartan Lettings, will need to ensure that a landlord is registered or licenced before they will be able to take on a property to let.
The Welsh Government has a whole host of advice and tips for landlords including available courses and an interactive questionnaire to check whether the new legislation applies to you. Visit: https://www.rentsmart.gov.wales/en/ for full details.
Hannah McCartan, MD of McCartan Lettings explains more about this legislation and how it affect both landlords and their agents:
For information about how working with McCartan Lettings can ensure your compliance with the new legislation and to benefit from the different management levels the agency can offer visit www.mccartanlettings.co.uk or call them on 01792 430100.