Residential Lettings in Wales
The Housing (Wales) Act 2014 aims to improve practices in the private rented housing sector in Wales. Below we look at the Rent Smart Wales scheme, how this affects landlords and letting agents and how our template documents can assist landlords and agents who own and manage properties in Wales.
What is Rent Smart Wales?
Rent Smart Wales is the brand name for the central licensing authority designated by the Welsh Ministers under the Housing (Wales) Act 2014. It is run in partnership by the 22 Local Authorities in Wales.
Who needs to register with Rent Smart Wales?
All landlords who let residential property in Wales on an assured shorthold tenancy (and some other tenancies) need to register with Rent Smart Wales. The deadline for doing so was 23 November 2016. If you have not registered already, you must do so now. A fee of £33.50 is payable for online applications. The fee is per landlord, not per property, and the registration lasts 5 years.
Which landlords need a licence from Rent Smart Wales?
Landlords who appoint an agent to carry out all letting and property management activities will not require a licence. However, if a landlord does any letting activities (e.g. conducting viewings, preparing an inventory) or property management activities (e.g. collecting rent, being the tenant’s point of contact), the landlord will require a licence. An application can be made online and costs £144. The licence lasts for 5 years.
Before applying for a licence, landlords must complete a training course. The course can be done online or in the classroom. The Rent Smart Wales website has details of courses.
What about agents?
Letting agents must obtain a licence to carry out letting and/or property management work. This applies not only to professional agents but also to individuals who manage properties on behalf of family and friends. The application for a licence can be made online. The fee varies according to the size of the operation. The lowest fee is £144 (the same as the landlord fee), the highest is £6,600. As with the landlord licence, the agent licence lasts for 5 years.
The agent (if an individual) or the agent’s staff (in the case of a corporate agent) must have undertaken training before a licence can be issued. As with landlords’ training, this can be done online or in the classroom.
Ongoing compliance by landlords and agents
Licensed landlords and agents must comply with the Rent Smart Wales Code of Practice. A failure to comply with the requirements (as opposed to the Best Practice recommendations) can lead to the loss of the landlord’s or agent’s licence.
Corporate agents must keep Rent Smart Wales informed of any staff turnover and must ensure that new staff are trained.
New and updated documents for English and Welsh landlords and agents
We have reviewed and updated our template documents for landlords and agents to ensure they comply with the Rent Smart Wales Code of Practice. Many of the requirements and recommendations in the Code of Practice reflect best practice and should be followed by English landlords and agents.
We have also added some new template letters and forms specifically for landlords and agents of properties in Wales.
The contents of this Newsletter are for reference purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Independent legal advice should be sought in relation to any specific legal matter.