Welsh Government’s plans won’t help tenants

Welsh Government’s plans won’t help tenants

The Welsh government’s plans to regulate landlords and private rented housing are “bureaucratic, costly for tenants and ineffective and will not achieve the Housing Bill’s aims of better standards”, according to the Residential Landlords Association (RLA). 

Representing private rented sector landlords, RLA director for Wales, Douglas Haig, appeared before the Communities, Equality and Local Government Committee last week.

He said: “We support efforts to professionalise the sector, but the proposed scheme as outlined in the Bill will not achieve these aims.”

Based on Scottish experience where licensing was introduced in 2006 and cost £18m up to January 2013, RLA Cymru claims the Welsh Government have under-estimated the cost of running the scheme which  will end up as a bureaucratic machine obsessed with record keeping and processing information, directing resources away from tackling poor landlords. Landlords in Wales will pay £50 for a licence and £10 per property for five years.

Landlords’ costs, especially the costs of onerous licence conditions will inevitably end up being paid by tenants. The resulting cost of the increased regulatory burden will feed through into higher rents, with tenants of good landlords seeing no benefit.

"The Welsh Government has failed to grasp the immense task which it is taking on, particularly in rural areas, of enrolling private landlords into the scheme,” said Haig, “The scheme does not directly address the main problem of ignorant and criminal landlords who are a minority in the sector. It is estimated there is a total 50-70,000 landlords owning Wales’ 184,000 rented homes.”

The National Assembly for Wales held its third session on Thursday 23 January to inform their scrutiny on the Housing (Wales) Bill, currently being considered by the Communities, Equality and Local Government Committee.

Introduced by Housing Minister Carl Sargeant, one of the many provisions of the Bill calls for a compulsory landlord registration and licensing scheme in Wales. Under the current proposal, landlords would be legally required to register all of their properties and attend a one-day training course – at a further cost – to obtain a licence to let their property.

RLA Cymru is seeking an alternative scheme of co-regulation with local authorities. Landlords who voluntarily comply with standards in an industry-run accreditation scheme are exempt from local authority control. Local authorities can then focus their efforts on managing the minority of landlords who do not register and operate outside the law.