With less than two weeks until the new registration and licensing system in Wales, Rent Smart Wales, becomes a mandatory requirement, thousands of landlords have still not signed up, and one law firm is concerned that this could lead to a high number of penalties, stopping orders and prosecutions.
LHS Solicitors LLP is urging unregistered landlords in Wales to act quickly to meet the 23 November 2016 deadline and avoid breaking the law.
All landlords must submit their details to a central register through the scheme introduced by the Welsh authorities to comply with new regulations on renting property in Wales set out under the Housing Act (Wales) 2014.
The scheme requires all landlords and letting agents to register their properties and undergo training to obtain a licence if they wish to self-manage their rental investment. Those that fail to register could face court and, if convicted, a fine of £1,000.
Failure to obtain a licence or to comply with other elements of the legislation could result in severe consequences, including a fixed penalty of up to £250, rent stopping orders, rent repayment orders or even prosecution.
The scheme is designed to drive up the quality of rented accommodation in Wales through training courses for landlords and by giving local councils a better understanding of where properties are situated, which Rianda Markram, a lawyer at LHS Solicitors LLP, believes is a positive step forward.
Markram said: “Here at LHS we regularly receive complaints from landlords and tenants. With clear rules and communication, many of these disputes could easily be avoided.
“With the introduction of Rent Smart Wales, landlords and agents will be able to uphold a positive reputation as the system aims to prevent criminals from becoming involved in the management or letting of properties, significantly improving the overall standard of rented housing in Wales.
“Despite some landlords feeling as though the process is a burden, once they are registered and those that manage or let properties are trained and licensed, this then lasts for five years. Landlords were granted a 12 month grace period which began in November 2015 to register, get trained and become licensed, so there has been plenty of opportunity to take action. The inconvenience of following the process may be a small price to pay to achieve a quality rental system for Wales.
“There are enormous benefits for good landlords and agents as Rent Smart Wales keeps them informed of their responsibilities, while the arrangement affords essential protection to tenants.”
For further information about RentSmart Wales – click here.