The deadline for registration with Rentsmart Wales has now passed and the hundreds of unlicensed agents who manage properties on behalf of landlords are now in breach of the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 but, we can reveal, won’t be prosecuted straight away.
Rentsmart Wales, which is the Licensing Authority operating the scheme on behalf of the country’s 22 local authorities and run by Cardiff City Council, would appear to be creaking under the strain of late applications from landlords and agents. Its main contact number has been constantly engaged since the beginning of the week.
As the deadline passed last night Rentsmart Wales says it had licensed 405 agents with 1,147 pending approval, and 3,945 landlords licensed with 9,133 pending approval. This is a significant improvement on the position at the end of October when 303 agents had been licensed and 576 were pending approval. Rentsmart also says 126,154 properties are now within the scheme or about 62% of the rental stock.
But there is still a long way to go and the vast majority of agents and landlords are waiting for to be licensed. In light of these figures, Welsh Assembly Communities Secretary Carl Sargeant said last night that agents and landlords would not be prosecuted “if they have done all they reasonably can to comply”.
“But, this must not be seen as an excuse to ignore the law,” he said. “My message to private landlords is clear. You must take action to comply with the requirements of the law.
“We know some private landlords will deliberately flout the law. They will be targeted and if they fail to comply, they will face the consequences, including fines, fixed penalties, restrictions on evicting tenants, and rent stopping and repayment orders.”