A new Bill to regulate the private rental sector has recently been introduced by the Welsh Assembly Government. If you are a landlord - and it doesn't matter whether you have one property or a hundred, or whether or not you manage the property yourself or use an agent - this legislation will affect YOU, and failure to comply could lead to fines. Read on to find out more about the new rules and how they affect Welsh landlords.
When the Renting Homes (Wales) Bill receives Royal Assent - which is expected by early 2016 - landlords will face much tighter regulation, while tenants will receive more protection in the eyes of the law.
There are seven parts to the Bill, covering everything from housing finance to gypsies and travellers. The part of the Bill that will most affect Dafydd Hardy and its landlord clients is Part 1: Regulation of Private Rental Housing.
One of the key points of Part 1 is found in Section 3, which will make it an offence for a landlord to let his property to tenants if both the landlord and the property are not registered.
Further, it will be an offence for anyone to manage a property if they are not licensed - and in order to become licenced, it is likely a landlord or property manager will be required to gain a qualification to become an accredited landlord (although this part of the Bill has yet to be fully outlined).
If you already use an accredited property manager (such as Dafydd Hardy, whose property management team members will all be formally qualified by the time the legislation comes into force), you won't need to be licensed as an individual - you'll just need to register as a landlord and then register each property you're making available for letting to tenants.
However, if you wish to manage the property yourself - and this would include such seemingly innocuous tasks as chasing rent arrears or calling your usual plumber to fix a leaking pipe - failure to be licensed may mean you will be fined.
Fines may also be levied if you let a property which you have not registered with your local authority, which will be required to keep a register of anyone who lets or manages rental properties. The register will be available to the public, meaning tenants can take action against unregistered landlords or unlicensed property managers, which could mean the local authority issuing a 'rent stopping order'.
A registration fee will be payable to the local authority at the time of registration, and again five years after first registering.
Once licensed, landlords and property managers will have to display their licence numbers in any advertisements; again, failure to do so may result in a fine.
An important point to note is that as well as breaking the law, unregistered landlords will forfeit the right to serve a Section 21 Notice if they want to end a tenancy. This means that if you have a problem tenant, it will be more difficult to evict them - the case will have to go to court, which can be time consuming and costly.
All landlords, new or existing, will have to register by October.
If you have any questions or concerns about how the Renting Homes (Wales) Bill might affect you as a landlord and/or property manager, please talk to our Property Management Team on 01248 353 544 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.