Welsh Housing Bill seeks to regulate all letting agents and landlords

Welsh Housing Bill seeks to regulate all letting agents and landlords

The Welsh Housing Bill has been introduced, seeking to set up mandatory regulation of all letting agents and landlords.

Tenants of agents and landlords who failed to register with, and be licensed by, their local authorities in Wales would be able to withhold rent.

The proposals – which would set a precedent in the UK – immediately drew fire from the National Landlords Association.

CEO Richard Lambert said: “While it comes as no surprise that the Welsh Government wishes to register all private landlords, it is deeply disappointing that the plans appear mired in burdensome bureaucracy.

“The requirements outlined in the Housing (Wales) Bill require landlords to not only register, but to subsequently obtain a licence from what could be numerous local authorities – each of which may stipulate its own conditions and fees. Duplication is inevitable.

“It is unnecessary, and unhelpful, to require private landlords to submit details of their investments to a public register in the name of driving improvements and rooting out criminals.

“Far from combating criminality within the private rented sector and offering solutions to the undersupply of residential property, these measures look certain to increase the cost of providing homes by forcing landlords to comply with yet more red tape.

“The NLA shares the Welsh Government’s desire to raise standards in the private rented sector, but we remain unconvinced that a national register of landlords is the right approach.

“It will only serve to increase the cost of living for many hard-working families as the fee for registering and subsequently obtaining a licence will inevitably be passed on to tenants.”

The proposals were also criticised by the Conservatives and Plaid Cymru. The Tories said they failed to deal with “Labour’s housing supply crisis”. Plaid Cymru called for more protection for tenants from evictions.

Introducing the Bill in the Senedd, Welsh housing minister Carl Sargeant said: “This is a significant piece of legislation, and if passed, will become Wales’ first ever Housing Act.”

The Bill also proposes to do away with Assured Shorthold Tenancies and replace them with a standard tenancy that would apply across both social and private sectors.

In addition, the Bill requires local councils to act faster – within 56 days – if a household is at risk of homelessness, and to provide more gipsy and traveller sites. It also allows local authorities to charge higher rates of council tax on second homes.