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First landlord licensing prosecution in Wales

A Welsh landlord has been fined £4,400 and costs for failing to comply with the landlord licensing requirements of Rent Smart Wales.

“Rent Smart Wales” and landlord licensing

Since 23rd November 2016, a system of landlord registration and licensing has operated in Wales. All private landlords in Wales must be registered; in addition to this, all private landlords – or agents who act on their behalf – must be licensed in order to let private property in Wales. 

To gain a licence, the landlord or agent must complete a 1-day training course (also available online), and abide by the Code of Practice for Landlords & Agents. This Code gathers pre-existing legal requirements for landlords, and makes the award of a licence conditional on these requirements.

The registration and licensing scheme is run by Rent Smart Wales, a service operated by Cardiff Council, but which extends to the whole country.

Landlords liable for prosecution

The aim of RentSmartWales licensing scheme is to provide landlords and agents with the education and information to help them meet their legal requirements – the Code of Practice walks landlords/agents through all stages of a tenancy in an “easy-read” format, and the training is compulsory. However, landlords or agents who violate their licence, or who fail to apply for a licence as required, are liable for prosecution.

“A landlord who [lets a property whilst unlicensed] commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine.” Section 7(5) of the Housing (Wales) Act 2014

In May 2017, the first Landlord was prosecuted for operating a HMO despite not holding a licence, and also failing to meet specific HMO fire safety requirements. The Landlord was fined £4,400, plus £1,170 in costs and surcharges.

This landlord has since completed the RentSmartWales training, and applied for a licence. Speaking about the case, Bethan Jones, manager of RentSmartWales, said:

“This case is a real milestone for RentSmartWales, being the first prosecution of a non-compliant landlord. This prosecution send a strong message to other non-compliant landlords, who continue to flout the law, and those who haven’t complied should come forward now to avoid action against them.”

Landlord licensing in Northern Ireland

Housing Rights strongly supports the introduction of landlord licensing in Northern Ireland. Licensing would help ensure landlords meet an agreed and impartial standard, and assure tenants across Northern Ireland of a satisfactory and consistent housing tenure.

As part of the ongoing review of the private rented sector, the Department for Communities has expressed arguments against licensing – specifically, that it places additional financial and administrative burdens on all landlords, including reputable landlords who meet their obligations. The typical cost of a 5-year licence is quoted as £500 - Housing Rights’ view is that the equivalent of £1.92 per week is a price any landlord should be willing to bear the cost of, in order to be licenced and recognised as wholly diligent and compliant in the execution of their duties.

Read more about our position on landlord licensing, and examples of licensing elsewhere.
 

Tagged In

Regulation, Private Tenancies, Landlord

Author

Stephen Orme