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Thousands of Welsh landlords at risk

keys-hand-overWITH tens of thousands of landlords yet to register with Rent Smart Wales, LHS Solicitors LLP is urging them to act quickly to meet the November 23 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.

With less than two weeks until the deadline, those that fail to register could face court and, if convicted, a fine of £1,000.

Landlords who self-let or self-manage and are involved in letting and property management activities such as arranging viewings or collecting rent, require a landlord licence by the same deadline.

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.

Letting agents that carry out letting or property management activities on behalf of landlords will need to apply for their own agent licence. When applying for licences, both parties must also be able to prove that they are ‘fit and able’ to hold a licence and that they have completed appropriate training.

The process of completing the licensing takes up to eight weeks, although registration online takes just a few minutes.

Rianda Markram, lawyer at LHS Solicitors LLP, explains that despite the extra administration, the new regulation is a positive step forward: ‘‘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 on how to register, get access to training or to apply for a licence, visit: https://www.rentsmart.gov.wales/en/