It is not long before Wales will introduce mandatory register of all landlords and their properties. It is called Welsh Agents and Landlords Licensing Scheme (WALLS). It is set to be introduced in the Welsh Housing Bill due for the autumn 2013.
What it will mean for you:
- Landlords will be required to register with the scheme providing details of all of their rental properties in Wales. Once registered (for which there will be a fee) you will become a member of the scheme and have two options:.
- If you manage your own property then within 2 years of registration with the scheme you will need to become accredited (licensed) member. You will need to complete an accredited training course and pass a ‘suitability test’.
- If you do not manage your own property you will have to appoint a responsible person or agent (and thus not having to become licensed yourself).
- Your license will last for a period of 3 years. You will have an unique membership number that you will be required to add to the tenancy agreement.
- The tenants will have access to an online database where they will be able to check if the landlord is a member of the scheme.
- You will need to adhere to a code of conduct and continue to stay ‘relevant’ and up to date with the law by ‘continued professional development’, so called CPD. This is likely to take form of courses, training, attendance at variety of landlords forums etc.
- There will be quite sever penalties for failure to comply with the legislation (with fines of up to £20,000 for failure to register) as well loss of ability to serve notice to quite and rent free period for the tenant
- The accreditation will be run by Cardiff County Council on behalf of the Welsh local authorities;
- And, finally, the aim is for the scheme to be self financing. The fees are not set in stone yet but you can expect all sorts of fees for registering, trainings and licensing.
In our opinion this is an excessive red tape and an extra cost imposed on landlords which is likely to do very little to help improve the rental market. There is already enough amount of legislation in place to prosecute ‘bad’ landlords and agents. What is needed is a proper enforcement by local authorities.
There is likely to be, however, one good thing coming out of this scheme – the Welsh government will, finally, know exactly the size of Private Rental Market and its locality.. This should, in turn, help WAG and local authorities to better plan for the housing needs nationally and locally.
[Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net]