Excessive regulations for landlords

09 November 2013

"Under the current Welsh Government's proposals timetabled for legislation in 2013, landlords with domestic lets in Wales who do not register their rented properties within a year of the start of the Welsh Agents and Landlords Licensing Scheme (WALLS) can expect to face penalties and will be charged with a criminal offence and disqualified," according to CLA Housing Adviser Danielle Troop who updated Welsh CLA members on the private rented sector last week at two workshops in Wales.

"Those who do not register within the proposed time period risk a £5,000 fine for failure to display the unique WALLS membership number on each new tenancy following approval. Failure to sit the accreditation course required for licensed status could also see fines of £10,000," she explains. 

The Welsh Government is proposing to legislate to establish a national, mandatory registration and licensing scheme ("the Scheme) to regulate landlords and lettings and management agents in the private rented sector (PRS) in Wales. Landlords and agents of PRS properties in Wales will be required to register and become accredited, and ultimately licensed, with the local authority within whose area the property is located. Each local authority will then be required to regulate such landlords and agents through enforcement action where necessary.

Once landlords are registered on the Scheme, the process to become licensed will require accredited training through a relevant approved course. For agents, the process is different with the route to becoming licensed requiring membership of an approved body, and the achievement of accredited status for two-thirds of staff involved in the lettings and management of residential properties.

CLA Wales has criticised Welsh Government proposals in the summer over the "excessive" regulations on private landlords in Wales saying they "miss the point" on housing supply.

CLA Wales Director Ben Underwood said the plans, outlined in the Welsh Government's Proposals for a Better Private Rented Sector in Wales consultation were disproportionate and will do nothing to tackle the shortage of housing in Wales.

He said: "In its own White Paper Better Lives and Communities, the Welsh Government confirms that 14,300 new homes are required annually to fulfil the housing need in Wales and yet it has chosen narrowly to interpret academic research and to concentrate on bureaucracy.

"The Welsh Government is proposing a massive increase in red tape, including fines of £50,000 for managing agents who fail to sign up to the planned scheme within three months, when we already have the Housing Health and Safety Rating System, mandatory Tenancy Deposit Schemes and new enforcement regulations coming in on the back of the Green Deal in 2016 and 2018.

"Local authorities have plenty of opportunities to take enforcement action against poor landlords with powers that are already in place."

Mr Underwood added: "The Welsh Government should be focusing its efforts on creating a framework for bringing new-build housing onto the rental market and decreasing homelessness, rather than increasing costs for existing accommodation.

"Taxation Reform, institutional investment and growing the Private Rental Sector through new market rent supply is absent from the Welsh White Paper - despite these proposals forming a fundamental part of the academic research underpinning the subject consultation, the 2008 Rugg Review. Instead, the Welsh Government has interpreted the Rugg Review narrowly - using it to underpin mandatory Landlord Registration in Wales whilst ignoring the relevant, strategic recommendations pertinent to the Housing Crisis in Wales today."

He concluded: "It is clear that CLA Wales members have an appetite to deliver new-build housing and meetings with the Housing Minister are currently being pursued."