Welsh government set to license all landlords
Tuesday 22nd May 2012
A crackdown on private landlords and letting agents in Wales is in prospect after the Welsh government proposed licensing.
The move, criticised by the Residential Landlords Association, will be closely watched in the rest of the UK where there is mounting pressure to regulate agents, if not landlords.
Anyone wanting to let a residential property in Wales would effectively need a licence, according to reforms outlined in a White Paper yesterday.
All landlords will be expected to sign a mandatory register and pass a ‘fit and proper person’ test. The legislation proposed would apply to letting agents as well.
“Accreditation will secure full registration status, which is effectively a licence to operate as a private landlord in Wales,” the White Paper says. Legislation, in the form of a new Housing Act, will apply to all landlords and agents in Wales, regardless of how few or how many properties they have.
The number of homes in the private rented sector in Wales has doubled in the past decade to 182,000 homes, or one in seven properties in Wales. The White Paper, a precursor to a new Housing Bill, describes the private rented sector as having ‘extremes’ of good and bad practice.
It says some tenants are having to put up with ‘poor conditions, insecurity and, sometimes, threats of eviction’ and it criticises the ‘questionable practices of some landlords and lettings and management agents’, including questionable charges and costs.
When accredited, landlords and agents will be expected to operate to certain minimum standards.
The White Paper says: “Failure to do so could result in penalties or other sanctions, proportionate to the failings in compliance. Codes of practice will be developed for landlords and agents.”
A spokesperson for the Residential Landlords Association said it welcomed the recognition that the White Paper gives to the private rental sector in Wales, but added: “The RLA does, however, remain cautious of the need for further regulation whilst existing measures are not being properly enforced to target the minority of landlords who bring the sector into disrepute.
“Extra regulation will inevitably lead to costs being passed on to tenants in higher rents.
“We also look forward to working with ministers, local authorities and others to ensure tenants are more aware of the measures which are already there to protect them.”
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