There is growing concern that thousands of buy-to-let landlords could face fines and possibly even prosecution for failing to sign up to a new registration and licensing system in Wales.
Almost a week has passed since the Welsh government's Rent Smart Wales scheme became law, and yet it is estimated that more than 13,000 thousands private landlords in Wales have still not signed up to the scheme, which could mean that they are letting out properties illegally.
Rent Smart Wales (RSW), the new registration and licensing system in Wales, which went live last year, represents a major change for the private rental sector in the principality.
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.
Landlords and agents were given until 23 November in which to comply with the new legislation, before it then became an offence to let or manage a property without the correct licence.
By last week’s deadline, 89,130 online accounts had been created with 64,248 licence registrations submitted.
A further 13,208 applications were started, but not completed. However, communities secretary Carl Sergeant, the minister responsible for overseeing the scheme, had admitted RSW’s system to register landlords had faced delays.
But while Sargeant confirmed that those who have started the process to comply will not face enforcement action, he insisted that this “must not be seen as an excuse to ignore the law”.
He said: “My message to private landlords is clear. You must take action to comply with the requirements of the law.”
Registering as a landlord costs £33.50 if completed online and £80.50 on paper, irrespective of the number of properties.
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.
For further information about Rent Smart Wales – click here.