CLA Wales has met with the specialist housing adviser to the former Housing Minister Huw Lewis and Head of Housing at Welsh Government to discuss Mandatory Landlord Registration which forms part of the new Housing Bill this autumn. Landlords and agents of rental properties in Wales would be required to register and become accredited and ultimately licensed adding unnecessary cost and bureaucracy.
It was stressed to policy officers that following the Northern Ireland Assembly research into this subject, Scotland, which has implemented the scheme, has identified a number of failings making it completely unworkable.
"We therefore in Wales need to ensure that the findings of the Northern Ireland Assembly review into the Scottish system are heeded," says CLA Housing Adviser Danielle Troop, who points out that powers are already held by local authorities to prosecute sub-standard landlords, namely the Selective Licensing Scheme and the Housing Health and Safety Rating System.
Research has identified that the scheme in Scotland is under resourced and local authority officers are struggling to deliver it. Worryingly, the criminal element of private sector landlordism in Scotland is not being tackled, due to lack of capacity in Local Authorities brought about by registering "mainstream" landlords. This has meant that time consuming prosecution work against criminal landlords has not been occurring.
Ms Troop also stressed the inherent risks in introducing a burdensome registration scheme in high value areas where landlords may take the view that selling rental stock to the owner-occupied or second homes market could make more sense financially than trying to comply with a time-consuming regulatory scheme.
"Those units are then "lost" from the rental market," she adds.
"Before the introduction of the Welsh Housing Bill in autumn 2013, we urge a full debate of the Northern Ireland Assembly Report by the Welsh Assembly," she concludes.