Uproar in Wales continues after government admits it got date wrong

The row over what appears to be a total shambles in Wales over licensing charges and the requirement for agents to show their fees as from this week, but with only days to comply, looks set to continue.

The Welsh government has also defended its pricing menu for letting agents and landlords to comply with mandatory registration and licensing requirements. The costs run into thousands.

It is still also not clear exactly who has been consulted.

The compulsory scheme, set out as a flagship template for England, has within days encountered strong opposition and setbacks.

There has now been an admission – conceded to be “an embarrassing mistake” – that notification of the requirement for letting agents in Wales to show fees was wrongly dated as November 2014.

The admission means that agents in Wales were given only six days to comply.

Yesterday, the Welsh Government told EYE that the notification about the mandatory display of letting agent fees, dated November 2014, was a mistake.

It should have been dated November 2015 – not last year, but last week, when the notification was sent out.

The admission totally exonerates ARLA, local councils and agents who said they had never seen the requirement to show fees until a few days ago.

EYE’s coverage of the issue also aroused strong comments.

One poster said that the 2014 date might have meant that the Welsh Government intended to introduce mandatory display of fees a year ago.

Another poster who spotted the 2014 date accused EYE of shoddy reporting.

However, yesterday a Welsh Government spokesperson told us: “The legal requirements for agents to show their fees was not a Welsh Government decision.

“It was introduced in the UK Government’s Consumer Rights Act 2015.

“We combined the introduction of the measure with the launch of Rent Smart Wales to minimise the impact on letting agents and give them longer to prepare for the changes.

“The 2014 date in the English version of the letter was unfortunately a misprint.

“It was correct in the Welsh version of the letter and will be amended in all future materials.”

The spokesperson added further clarification, saying that the date should have indeed have been November 2015.

In further answers to questions from EYE, the new Rent Smart Wales has defended its unexpectedly high charges for compulsory licensing.

We asked about its consultation after outrage expressed by Welsh agents.

We were told: “The fees for Rent Smart Wales were developed using the best available data on the number of landlords and commercial letting agents in Wales, the cost of implementing the service – including staff costs – and direct and indirect costs involved in its set-up and ongoing delivery.

“The development of the fees uses many of the principles set out in an All Wales Licensing Expert Panel Toolkit and has been the subject of challenge by colleagues within the council, housing experts across Wales and the Welsh Government.

“Registration and licensing lasts for a period of five years. The fee for an agent who doesn’t employ any staff is the same as the landlord fee, while the fee for all other landlords is as advertised currently.

“We have received feedback in relation to affordability for small businesses and the need for an option to pay by instalments and will reflect on these comments over coming weeks with a view to making appropriate adjustments.”

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3 Comments

  1. Woodentop

    So farcically they have said to Welsh agents …. stuff you.

     

    They are lying, they knew exactly what the fee’s were months ago. They also had the scheme in the pipeline last winter after the Welsh Housing bill received Royal Accent the previous September. I have this on first hand from an official at Cardiff council back then.

     

    They are basically saying that they are implementing a regime that they cannot afford, so it is to be self funded by the market, without asking the market for its views. There are more Landlords than agents so it doesn’t stack up the fee being charged an agent. Also the model they say they use has not been published. Small agents (not necessarily high street agents) those that work from home/internet with a small portfolio have been robbed.

     

    I strongly urge every agent in Wales to make a formal complaint to their MP, the Welsh Assembly and Cardiff Council. The latter they should then take up with the local government ombudsman if they are not happy with the response.

     

    Which agent in their right mind is going to start registering before October 2016 as they have no need to. The requirement is to be licenced by November 2016 and their is no cut off date for applications to be received.

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    1. hamilldinio3

      I completely agree. I had confirmation from the Operations Manager at Cardiff council that they did not consult anyone from the industry regarding the fees!

       

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      1. Woodentop

         
        Lol, lol, lol, lol, lol, It is exactly what it says on the tin. Licencing, period. Official says they only have 3 people administering and no-one policing, they hope local councils will do it for them, if they want to! Also an official has said they can’t possibly monitor private landlords that would need to use a licensed agent according to the rules or how they can get the evidence to prosecute them. The licensing regime is hoping landlords will be honest and follow the rules ……. lol

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