Rent Smart Wales – Manadory Landlord and Agent Licensing
by Property Investments UKThe Property Investments UK editorial team have been researching and writing about the UK's property market for more than a decade.
Landlords and agents in Wales need to be registered with, and licensed by, Rent Smart Wales. Here we will explain what Rent Smart Wales is and how to register with Rent Smart Wales.
What is Rent Smart Wales?
Landlord and agent registration and licensing are compulsory in Wales.
Rent Smart Wales says that it assists those who let or manage rental properties in Wales to comply with their Housing (Wales) Act 2014 obligations and provides advice on renting out safe and healthy homes.
In simple terms Rent Smart Wales is a centralised landlord registration and licensing scheme for all of Wales. It is run in partnership with the 22 local authorities in Wales.
The overall aim is to improve property standards, management practices and relationships between landlords, agents and tenants in Wales.
Rhentu Doeth Cymru is Welsh for Rent Smart Wales. Their website is available in Welsh here.
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How Does it Work?
Who needs to register and who needs to get a licence? Rent Smart Wales has both a registration function and a licensing function.
- Landlords who own a rental property in Wales need to register with Rent Smart Wales, no matter where they are based.
- Landlords who manage their own property in Wales need to be licensed by Rent Smart Wales.
- Agents who manage a property on behalf of a landlord, whether as an individual or as a letting agent, need to be registered with and licensed by Rent Smart Wales.
- Landlords who own but do not manage a rental property in Wales need to register but they do not need a licence. (These landlords must appoint a licensed agent to manage their properties.)
- Landlords who are based in Wales but who have properties outside Wales do not need to register or obtain a licence as regards those properties.
Rent Smart Wales only applies to those who own or let a privately rented property on domestic tenancies (now known as contracts). It does not apply to the letting of commercial property. There are also some other exemptions such as holiday lets.
Anyone who is the immediate landlord of a property in Wales should register directly with Rent Smart Wales. Agents cannot register on behalf of a landlord.
The landlord registration process involves providing the landlord's personal details, property ownership details and rental property addresses, and the details of those responsible for the letting and/or management activities at the rental property.
A landlord could be an individual, several individuals owning a property jointly, a company, a charity or a trust.
How Much Does Registration Cost?
The current cost of Rent Smart Wales landlord registration is £45 (online fee, new application). Renewals are £36. The reduced fee applies if renewing a registration within 84 days of the expiry of the existing registration.
How Long Does the Registration Last?
Rent Smart Wales landlord registration lasts for five years.
Landlords who undertake letting activities and management work at rental properties in Wales are legally required to have a Rent Smart Wales Licence. Lettings activities include conducting viewings as well as setting up a tenancy. Management activities include collecting rent and arranging maintenance.
Landlords do not require a licence if they do not carry out letting and management, although they must still be registered and must have a registered and licensed agent.
The licence application process involves providing the landlord's personal details, a list of all employees, and evidence that the applicant and what is known as connected users have completed the mandatory training. (More information about mandatory training is provided later).
Rent Smart Wales applications can take up to 8 weeks to be reviewed and decided.
Every licence is issued with a set of conditions that a landlord or agent must follow. Failure to abide by these conditions could mean that the licence will be revoked.
Compliance with the Code of Practice is a condition attached to every licence. The Code of Practice lists all the legal requirements that licensees must comply with at every milestone throughout a rental contract.
How Much Does a Licence Cost?
The current cost of a landlord licence is £187 (online fee, single payment). The cost of renewing a licence is currently £168.30.
Agents who undertake letting and management work at rental properties in Wales are legally required to be registered and have a Rent Smart Wales Licence. An agent could be an individual or organisation, a spouse, a family member or friend of the landlord or a commercial letting agency.
Agent letting activities include advertising a property for rent and preparing a letting contract. Agent management activities include collecting rent, handling tenant queries and arranging maintenance.
A licence is not required by tradespeople and contractors who simply provide property maintenance services.
The licence application process involves providing personal details, a list of all employees, and evidence that the applicant and what are known as connected users have completed the mandatory training, details of business safeguards and a list of managed properties. (More information about mandatory training is provided later).
Agents must pay a fee and are also subject to periodic agent audits.
The business safeguards required by agents can include professional indemnity insurance, client money protection provisions and membership in an approved redress scheme.
Agents must also comply with the licence conditions and the Code of Practice.
Does Rent Smart Wales Cover HMO Licensing?
No, Rent Smart Wales does not handle HMO licensing. Landlords operating a house in multiple occupation or HMOs in Wales may need a licence from the relevant local authority, as well as their Rent Smart Wales registration and licence.
What Tenants Need to Know
Do tenants (now known as contract-holders) need to register with Rent Smart Wales? Contract holders do not need to register nor get a licence from Rent Smart Wales.
The Rent Smart Wales Tenant Guide is available to anyone renting or looking for rented accommodation. It provides a comprehensive list of their rights and responsibilities at every milestone in a rental contract.
Contract holders can check if their landlord and agent are registered on the Public Register on the Rent Smart Wales website.
Landlord and Agent Training
Applicants and connected persons who conduct letting and management activities must complete approved Rent Smart Wales training before making an application for a landlord or agent licence. Evidence that the training has been completed must be provided with the licence application. (Training is not required before the registration process.)
Rent Smart Wales provides both classroom-based training and online training.
Rent Smart Wales training costs from £30 to £140 depending on whether it is taken online or is classroom based and whether the applicant is a landlord or an agent.
Penalties for Failing to Comply
A failure to register or providing false or misleading information on a registration or licence application are offences.
Failure to comply could lead to a fixed penalty notice of up to £150 or £250, prosecution and unlimited fines, a rent repayment order or rent stopping order, as well as a landlord’s right to take possession of their property being restricted.