As we mentioned in an earlier post Regulations for dealing with private rented housing in Wales are increasing. From 23 November 2016 all properties need to be registered and anybody undertaking, letting or management work has to go further and be licensed.
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1. Registration by all landlords
- Why register? The Welsh Government is creating a centralised comprehensive register of the private rented sector. All properties must be registered.
- Who has to register? All landlords operating in Wales have been required registered with the relevant authority for nearly a year.
- What is the deadline for registration? The final deadline is 23 November 2016.
- How do you register? Cardiff County Council administers the registration process for the whole of Wales through a new service called ‘Rent Smart Wales’. Applications to register can be made online.
- How long will the registration last? 5 years and then it will need to be renewed. There is an ongoing requirement to keep the information on the register up to date, so if contact details or personal circumstances change the register must be updated.
2. Licensing – landlords and agents
- Why? The intention behind the prosed licensing system is that it will enable landlords and agents who undertake letting and management tasks to be better informed of their obligations in view of the compulsory training they will be required to undertake in order to become licensed.
- Who? All landlords and agents who carry out defined letting and management activities/work at a rental property in Wales are required to be licensed with the relevant licensing authority. To get a licence the applicants and their staff will be required to undertake approved training and to adhere to a Code of Practice.
- What if the landlord does not carry out letting and management activities? If a landlord decides not to carry out any letting or management activities at its properties because it employs an agent to do this work, it will not need a licence but the management or lettings activities at those properties must then only be carried out by an agent who is licensed. Regardless of this however that landlord must still register itself and its properties with Rent Smart Wales. The obligations to register and be licensed are entirely separate.
- What if the landlord shares the letting and management activities with an agent? Where letting/management activities are shared with a licensed agent, then that landlord must also be licensed.
- How to apply for a licence? Cardiff County Council administers the licensing process. The applicant must be deemed ‘fit and proper’ (which defined in section 20 of the Act) and be appropriately trained before a licence will be granted. There is also an ongoing requirement on a licence holder to keep the information held by the licensing authority up to date similar to the register.
- Will there be conditions on the licence? – Cardiff County Council will place conditions on the licence, one of which will be the requirement that the licence holder must comply with a Welsh Minister approved Code of Practice setting out letting and management standards in relation to rental properties. Other conditions may also be imposed as the licensing authority may feel appropriate
- Can the licences be revoked? Licences can be revoked if a licence holder breaches a licence condition or is no longer ‘fit and proper’.
- How long will the licence remain valid? Again 5 years after which date it will need to be renewed.
- Do I need a licence for each property? No. The licences are awarded to the person who applies. Therefore if a landlord has 20 properties they only need obtain a single licence. Similarly, a person acting on behalf of a landlord will apply for a single licence regardless of how many properties they act in relation to.
3. What Happens if these Regulations are Ignored
There are a range of penalties that can be enforced either by the licensing authority or a local authority should someone not comply with the provisions. These include Rent Repayment Orders, Fixed Penalty Notices, Rent Stopping Orders and summary convictions (with fines).
Investors with portfolios should check compliance by their professional agents.