1 November 2016 | Comment | Article by Rebecca Rees
Landlords in Wales urgently need to ensure they have identified whether or not they need to be registered and/or licenced under the new mandatory scheme brought in by the Housing (Wales) Act 2014.
The scheme applies to all residential rented property in Wales which is not let by a council or registered social landlord. It applies both to new and existing tenancies which are assured, assured shorthold or regulated tenancies.
The enforcement provisions will come into force on 23rd November 2016. Any landlord who is not compliant by that time faces prosecution as well as the potential to be unable to terminate a tenancy. The enforcement authorities can also make rent stopping orders and rent repayment orders against landlords who do not comply.
Anyone carrying out activities which, under the provisions of the Act, can only be done by a licenced person might also be risking prosecution.
- Register themselves with Rent Smart Wales (an agent cannot do it on their behalf).
- Identify whether they are carrying out any lettings or property management activities (see below) and if so obtain a licence or instruct a licenced person to carry out these activities on their behalf
Agents (which includes any person doing anything on behalf of a Landlord) must identify if a licence is required to cover their activities:
- If collecting rent, a licence is required
- Otherwise, the agent must consider whether it is carrying out letting or property management activities
- If the only activity is preparing an inventory, no licence is required
- People carrying out maintenance or work upon instruction from a landlord do not require a licence provided no other lettings or management work is carried out
- Otherwise, an agent may do ONE of the activities listed below, but if any more than one activity is done then a licence is required.
Lettings activities are:
- Publishing adverts or disseminating information
- Arranging viewings
- Carrying out pre-lettings checks in respect of prospective tenants
- Preparing a tenancy
- Preparing an inventory
Property management activities are:
- Collecting rent
- Being a principal point of contact for a tenant
- Making arrangements for work or maintenance to be done
- Making arrangements to access the property
- Checking the condition of the property
- Serving notice
A registration or licence must be updated every five years, and the landlord is obliged to keep certain information updated with Rent Smart Wales.
Can a landlord instruct a solicitor to carry out the activities?
A landlord can instruct a solicitor to prepare a tenancy, or to serve a notice and these activities will not require licensing.
- Landlords who need to register can do so here.
- Landlords who need to be licensed must apply for the licence to Rent Smart Wales. They will need to attend landlord training which can be arranged via the same site; the training can be done online. The application includes a “fit and proper" declaration and a fee of £144.
- Agents who need a licence must apply to Rent Smart Wales. An agent licence can be granted to an individual or to a body corporate. In the latter case, a list of all employees who will be carrying out activities must be supplied and those employees must undertake the necessary training and “fit and proper” declarations are required. Fees depend on the number of properties and professional accreditations but start at £1890. (although in some cases the landlord fee applies). Further information on this can be found here.
- NB all fees quoted above assume the application is made online.