A Landlords Guide to regulations – What is Rent Smart Wales?
Under the Housing (Wales) Act 2014, there are new legal obligations on landlords who have rental property in Wales. Landlords operating anywhere in Wales can comply with the new law by completing the appropriate application on this website. To start the process, you must create an account.
Please be advised that recent changes to the law now require all landlords to register with Rent Smart Wales and declare themselves a fit and proper person.
This legal requirement was introduced on the 23rd of November 2015, if your property remains managed by an agent for the entire duration of the tenanted period no further action will be required. However, if a landlord wished to manage the property themselves, they must sit the required training and pass the relevant test in order to let their property without the help of a managing agent. Further information and the registration process can be found at: https://www.rentsmart.gov.wales/en/
Please ensure you register with Rent Smart Wales and provide your registration number to us when returning the Landlord and Agent signed contract.
Once we have let your fully managed property a ‘pre-move in’ inspection will be carried out. The aim of this inspection will be to identify any potential hazards within your property which could cause harm to a tenant. You will be emailed a full breakdown of any areas or items which we deem ‘at risk’. You may also be supplied with a hand book, which will explain in greater detail why we have raised the issues and how we would recommend rectifying them. Should you not wish for any of the recommendations to be carried out please respond to our email to explain this.
We are aware that you may have let your property numerous times before without these issues having been raised but after numerous changes to lettings law and the introduction of landlord registration the industry is currently under the spotlight and we are taking all appropriate steps to ensure our landlords are protected.
In addition to this, landlords have a legal duty of care in rental properties to ensure that the risk of exposure of tenants to legionella is properly assessed and controlled. You must ensure a competent person carries out a Legionnaires risk assessment on all rented properties. This would include implementing a program to address any recommendations raised on the risk assessment. Further information can be found at:-
What changed on the 23rd November 2016?
The legislation that introduced the landlord registration process and the requirement for landlords and agents who let and manage rental properties in Wales to be licensed, came into force on the 23 November 2015 (The Housing (Wales) Act 2014). From this time landlords and agents were encouraged to come forward and to comply with their new legal obligations. The legislation made provision for those who needed to comply to do so within a year, without fear of any repercussions for non-compliance i.e. without committing an offence.
The enforcement powers within the legislation have since been activated. This means that Rent Smart Wales and its Local Authority partners across Wales, can now take action to make sure that those who need to comply, do so. Failure to comply with the legislation is now an offence.
I have not yet complied. What should I now do?
Do not delay. If you start the process immediately and make good progress to comply as soon as possible.
You do not need to ring them first, you can start the process online. First you must create a user account on our website (via the ‘Apply’ button in the top right hand corner of the website). Once created you can then complete the following (depending on your circumstances):
•Complete a landlord registration: this is a legal process where the landlord has to provide contact information, details of the rental properties in Wales on domestic tenancies that they rent out and also pay the registration fee (£33.50 online). This applies to all landlords in Wales. This should be done first and then any licence required applied for. Read more
•Complete a landlord licence application: This process only applies to landlords who let and manage their own rented accommodation. Licensing involves completing training, an application and paying the licence fee (£144 online). Read more
•Complete an agent licence application: This applies to commercial letting and management agents or anyone who lets and manages on behalf of landlord. A checklist on how to complete an agent licence application and information on the fees that apply can be found by clicking here
What will happen to those who do not comply with the requirements of the Act?
Marketing activity will continue to make sure that the Rent Smart Wales obligations are well understood across the sector. However, implementation of enforcement measures will be inevitable. Rent Smart Wales’s enforcement team is working with local authority partners across Wales. These teams will be working on ‘seek and find’ projects to identify landlords and agents who are not complying with the legislation. This proactive activity will initially target high risk parts of the sector. The legislation gives Rent Smart Wales the power to access various data sources to help tackle non compliance.
There are consequences of committing offences under the Act. These include:
•Fixed Penalty Notices (of either £150/£250)
•Rent Repayment Orders
•Rent Stopping Orders
•Criminal Prosecutions and Fines
Also, landlords will not be able to serve valid section 21 notices for possession of their property unless the property is registered and either the landlord is licensed or the landlord uses a licensed agent to let and manage the property.
To avoid these measures being taken against you, take action now to comply.
Their enforcement powers will be used in a sensible and proportionate manner and our priority will be to take action where people have not made any steps to comply.
Discrimination Landlord Law Compliance with Letting Legislation amongst others the Disability Discrimination Act, Sex Discrimination Act and Race Relations Act also apply to anyone in letting,
Providing a Tenancy Agreement Landlord Law Since March 1997 a Tenant has the right to ask their Landlord to provide a statement of the terms of their tenancy. The information that must be provided is contained in our tenancy agreement.
Protection from Harassment Act 1997 – Makes it a crime and tort (civil wrong or injury) to harass someone and if that person knows, or ought to know then their behaviour amounts to harassment.
What are the implications for non compliance with the laws?
Very dire – Tenants are protected by numerous laws and are often guided by Councils, charitable organisations and ‘No win no fee solicitors’. Some examples of such non compliance are below:-
Unlawful Eviction/Harassment can cost a Landlord £10-15,000. Failing to repair is harassment.
Non compliance with Deposit Legislation means a Landlord could be fined three times the Deposit compensation which is ‘Tax Free’ to tenants and is payable in 14 days of the award. The Landlord will als be ordered to protect or return the deposit – irrespective of the fact the tenant may owe them money.
Failure to comply with Deposit Legislation also means, the Section 21 Notice is automatically invalidated.
Non compliance with Section 47 and Section 48 could mean that no rent is lawfully due – This is supplying the Tenant with an address in England or Wales ONLY where they can serve notice on the Landlord. An Agent/Friends address is OK. This should be done in the Tenancy Agreement.
Tenants will often claim the property is in disrepair to withhold the rent.
The Deposit Dispute Service puts the burden of proof on Landlords where the return of the Deposit is disputed by the Tenant. Many Landlords have complained about the impartiality of the adjudication.
The classic set up is where the tenant induces the Landlord to think they have left; only to return claiming unlawful eviction.
A Landlord/Agent does NOT HAVE THE RIGHT to enter the property if a Tenant refuses. See Rights of entry & refusal .
Issuing Invalid Notices is very costly as the Landlord will have to start the eviction process again.
Always keep an audit trail of correspondence – as Tenants often tend to deny things.