The Housing (Wales) Act 2014 (the “Act”) received royal assent on 17 September 2014. The Act deals with a whole range of issues including the private rented sector, homelessness, and the provision of sites for gypsies and travellers.
This article aims to give private landlords a brief overview of their obligations under the Act, as the provisions dealing with the private rented sector are now fully in force.
The Act states that all private landlords who are involved in the letting of a property in Wales must register themselves and their property with Rent Smart Wales; this is the designated licensing authority for private landlords for the whole of Wales and is hosted by Cardiff Council. At the time of writing, landlord registration costs £33.50 if completed on-line, and £80.50 if completed via a paper application. A landlord’s registration lasts five years, after which time they must re-register. A landlord who fails to register commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine.
In accordance with section 6 of the Act, a private landlord that self-manages their property must be licensed to carry out letting activities. As such, without a licence, a private landlord should not:
(a) Arrange or conduct viewings;
(b) Gather evidence for the purpose of establishing the suitability of prospective tenants;
(c) Prepare / arrange the preparation of a tenancy agreement; or
(d) Prepare / arrange the preparation of an inventory for the property or schedule of condition of the property.
A landlord who self manages and is not licensed to carry out letting activities commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine.
In accordance with section 7 of the Act, a private landlord that self-manages their property must be licensed to carry out property management activities. As such, without a licence, a private landlord should not:
(a) Collect rent;
(b) Be the principal point of contact for the tenant in relation to matters arising under the tenancy;
(c) Make arrangements with a person to carry out repairs or maintenance;
(d) Make arrangements with a tenant or occupier of the property to secure access to the property for any purpose;
(e) Check the contents or condition of the property, or arrange for them to be checked as part of a current tenancy or for one which has ended; or
(f) Serve notice to terminate the tenancy.
A landlord who self manages and is not licensed to carry out property management activities commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine.
In order to become licensed to carry out letting activities and property management activities, a private landlord must complete an application via Rent Smart Wales. In order to become licensed, a private landlord must complete appropriate training either via Rent Smart Wales or via an approved and authorised trainer. As with registration, a private landlord’s license lasts five years; during that time a private landlord is obligated to keep the information in the licence application up to date.
If a licence holder fails to comply with any condition of their licence, or is no longer deemed to be ‘fit and proper’, then their licence can be revoked. In determining whether a private landlord is deemed to be ‘fit and proper’, Rent Smart Wales must have regard to such factors as contained within section 20 of the Act.
If you are a private landlord and you do not self-manage your property, you must ensure that the agent that you appoint holds the relevant licenses. A private landlord who appoints an un-licensed agent commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine.
It is important to note, should a private landlord fail to register, or fail to be appropriately licensed, they may not terminate a tenancy in accordance with section 21 of the Housing Act 1988.
Should you require any guidance on your obligations as a private landlord in Wales, please get in touch with our Mr Ahmed who will only be too happy to assist with your enquiry.