Get Smart: All you need to know about Rent Smart Wales
By Martine Harris
Thu 08 Sep 2016
The deadline for landlords and agents to register their properties with the Welsh Government scheme is 23 November 2016
Unless you’re new to the role of landlord or agent, you’ll have probably heard about the new law introduced in 2014 requiring all landlords and letting agents of private residential property in Wales, to register themselves and their properties with Rent Smart Wales. But what you may not realise is that the deadline to do this 23 November 2016 is fast approaching and, if ignored, could see you facing legal action.
To ensure you don’t get caught out, here’s a quick overview of the law, how it affects you as a landlord or letting agent and how to avoid those unnecessary legal penalties.
What is Rent Smart Wales and why was it created?
The Housing (Wales) Act was passed in 2014 by the Welsh Government introducing a mandatory registration and licencing scheme called Rent Smart Wales, which applies to all landlords and letting agents who rent out residential properties in Wales. Its aim is to raise standards in the private rented sector in Wales, as well as increasing awareness of the rights and responsibilities of landlords, letting agents and tenants. It was implemented in November 2015 and gave landlords and agents one year in which to comply.
How do I get a licence?
Landlords and letting agents applying for licenses must first undertake and pass a Rent Smart Wales approved training course. Earlier this year Moginie James teamed up with one of the approved providers for Rent Smart Wales, Training for Professionals, to make sure we offered our landlords the opportunity to fully educate themselves on this new legislation so they are able to continue operating professionally. We ran four very successful courses which saw many of our landlords pass their exams with flying colours and all of our staff have also completed the appropriate training in readiness for our licence being approved.
Once you’ve passed your training course, if you are a landlord who manages your own properties, then you apply for a licence by logging on to the Rent Smart Wales website – but don’t worry, it doesn’t take too long and definitely won’t break the bank.
Landlord registration completed online costs £33.50 and £80.50 if done by paper. If you’re lucky enough to have multiple properties, you’ll be happy to know that only one licence is required regardless of how many dwellings you’re a landlord for. But, if you rent your properties in different ways such as sole ownership, joint ownership and company ownership, new registration and licences may be needed.
The landlord licence fee is currently £144 for online applications and £186 for those completed on paper.
For agents, fees are dependent on the number and type of properties managed. More information on this can be found here.
I don’t know whether I’m a landlord or an agent – how can I find this out?
If you answer yes to either of the following questions about a property you own but don’t live in, then you’re considered a landlord:
· Do you allow someone else to live in that property (as their main residence) and do they pay you money to live there?
· Is the property rented on an assured, short hold or regulated tenancy?
There is also some confusion as to whether people are agents. The simple test to work out if you’re an agent is to ask yourself, ‘do I manage properties that I don’t own?’ – If the answer’s yes, then you’re an agent.
Just like landlords, agents also need a licence to let and manage properties in Wales, as well as undertake certain activities. The criteria for this can be found here.
What happens if I don’t get a licence?
Landlords and agents who fail to register with Rent Smart Wales before the deadline on 23 November 2016 could face legal action - something no one wants to face!