It is now best practice for letting agents and landlords in Wales to carry out regular inspections under new rules introduced as part of wider changes to Rent Smart Wales, which marks its fifth anniversary this month.
The new conditions, introduced for anyone signing up on 1 July 2020 and onwards, will now apply once these landlords have renewed, including the requirement for a mandatory inspection of single tenancy properties annually, and every six months for an HMO.
In addition, single tenancy properties and HMOs must be inspected within the first two to six months of a new tenancy, with Rent Smart Wales creating a template inspection form for the landlord or agent to fill and keep for their records.
The condition replaces that which requires a landlord whose main residence/business address is located in Britain but is 200-plus miles from the rental property, to either appoint a licensed local agent or employ a locally based member of staff to assist in the management of the rental property.
The new conditions have not been well received by buy-to-landlords and some agents in Wales.
The National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) views the new conditions as unnecessary, and believes that the mutual obligations provided for in tenancy agreements are sufficient.
Calum Davies, the NRLA’s Welsh Policy & Public Affairs Officer, commented: “If mandatory inspections must be introduced, we suggested they could be in the Welsh government’s upcoming model standard occupancy contracts.
“Additionally, anecdotal evidence suggests some tenants would not be happy with such inspections, unnecessarily disturbing their lives.
“We also reminded Rent Smart Wales that landlords must provide the property to the tenant in a suitable state under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System, and soon Fitness for Human Habitation, and it becomes the landlord’s responsibility to prove this.
“Therefore, it is superior to any other inspection arrangements.
“In addition to these cases, the NRLA also argued that unscrupulous landlords that do not conform to HHSRS and FFHH standards will unlikely volunteer themselves to registration and licensing.”
In addition to the inspections, licensees will also have to undertake training on the Renting Homes Act 2016 prior to or within three months of its implementation.
But the newest licensees – who took out licences before July 2020 – will not be required to undertake the training until they renew in five years’ time in 2025.