Wales Government claims regulation is ‘template for rest of UK’ – but rows mount

Wales says it is leading the way forward on private rented standards throughout the UK. But rows are mounting.

There are ongoing question marks as to the  requirement for letting agents to show their fees, a legal requirement from yesterday, but with apparently a shocking short deadline of just six days.

In another challenge to the new regime, the Residential Landlords Association this morning said that agents in Wales will have to pay much larger, and hitherto undisclosed, fees in order to carry on in business.

The RLA said: “Yesterday Rent Smart Wales, the body behind Wales wide licensing and registration, announced the fees for landlord and agents to become registered and licensed.

“The fees announced are a marked departure from those originally stated during the consultation phases of the Housing (Wales) Act.

“Agents who manage properties as individuals and do not employ staff are required to obtain an agent’s licence at the £144 fee.

“All other agents must pay a whopping fee of £3,728 for an online application.

“Paper application fees will increase to £4,368 when that functionality is available through Rent Smart Wales.

“These fees hit smaller agents (those who employ one or more people) the hardest, as Rent Smart Wales offers only one fee for an agent to become licensed, regardless of how many people the agency employs.

“Furthermore these figures do not include any further training costs, but only the cost of applying for the licence.

“This means that members of staff who undertake management activities may, depending on exactly what duties they complete, need to be trained. Current costs for the agent licence training are £140 per person.”

The RLA said the new Rent Smart Wales scheme is “an expensive, overburdening exercise in paperwork that will do little to target the criminal landlords who refuses to make themselves known”.

Amid the criticisms, Welsh housing minister Lesley Griffith yesterday said: “I am proud Wales is leading the way on improving professionalism across the private rented sector. Our new, landmark scheme will drive up standards by making Wales the first country in the UK where managing landlords and agents are required to undertake training to ensure they are clear on their responsibilities.

“The changes will prevent rogue, and even criminal, landlords and agents from being involved in the management and letting of properties. This will help to protect tenants in the private rented sector – including students, lone parents and young families.

“Rent Smart Wales will also support good landlords and agents by helping them keep abreast of their responsibilities and legal obligations, and raising the reputation of the sector as a whole.”

Yesterday, in a separate requirement, it also became mandatory for all letting agents in Wales to show their fees.

ARLA was yesterday adamant it was not told of this requirement until a few days ago.

An information notice, apparently dated November 2014, was not seen until last week by ARLA.

ARLA, along with others, is now querying whether the “November 2014” was a misprint which should have read “November 2015”.

EYE will be specifically querying with the Wales Government whether the misprint may have been deliberate, but if it was dated November last year, will ask how many people were actually told at the time.

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15 Comments

  1. Will

    The latest Welsh Gravy Train stopping at a property near you! Thankfully there is a border between England and Wales – at the moment!

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  2. Roland

    Absolute shambles. Info notice with requirement to display fees was only passed to local authorities last week (wednesday). A meeting between all LA’s was also cancelled last minute with no reason.

    No information leading up to launch, Poorly executed with unreasonable fees on smaller letting agents that may only have a couple members of staff.

    Membership up to £4,368, a fine for non compliance £5,000.

     

    No mention of CMP, regulatory scheme, tenant guides etc etc.

    None of this will prevent a rouge landlord.

    I was all up for licence but this is a

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  3. daviddortongibson

    I am surprised about all this fuss over the display of fees. If you look at http://www.legislation.gov.uk/wsi/2015/1831/article/2/made you will find the regulations that brought this in (Part 3 Chapter 3 of the of the Consumer Rights Act). We saw these regs had been passed a couple of days after they were passed and nearly a month ago (though without warning in that the regs were passed on the 21 October and came into force on the 21 October.

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  4. Woodentop

    How on earth can the Welsh Government charge nearly £4,000 for an agent to be licenced? Just ridiculous and smacks on something that agents in Wales have been hearing rumblings of for some years. The Welsh Government are very pro housing association and would like to see all rentals properties come under their management, as they jump to the MP’s command who basically are their employers as they are government funded in Wales. Is it just coincidence that the fee is a back door to getting rid of small letting agents and landlords looking after properties.

     

    If one looks further into their licensing regime an individual who looks after just one other property, example for a friend or relative, will be classed an agent and need to pay that whopping fee …….. ludicrous. have to laugh, Rent SMART wales isn’t very smart!

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  5. Woodentop

    “The changes will prevent rogue, and even criminal, landlords and agents from being involved in the management and letting of properties. This will help to protect tenants in the private rented sector – including students, lone parents and young families.

    “Rent Smart Wales will also support good landlords and agents by helping them keep abreast of their responsibilities and legal obligations, and raising the reputation of the sector as a whole.”

     

    This legislation will only stop rogue landlords that they withdraw a licences from.

     

    As to supporting good landlords and agents . LOL. If one looks at the training required it is a ONE day course during which you are expected (according to the published syllabus) to learn everything that an ARLA diploma certificate would provide which takes on average 9 months to learn. Therefore the one day course is nothing more than a lecture, NOT how to be a good landlord or run a letting agency. What a shambles and Its just laughable ………… if ever there was an exposure of bureaucratic incompetence the Welsh Minister has done herself proud … not fit for the job. They have been planning this for over 12 months!

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    1. fluter

      With you all the way Woodentop. I rang RentSmart Wales yesterday afternoon and spoke to a guy who had already fielded numerous calls from irate agents and landlords regarding the scheme and in particular prices.He asked if I wanted him to escalate my concerns to management and am awaiting a call-back. A one-size fits all pricing policy shows a fundamental lack of commercial common sense and I would imagine they have set themselves up for a major headache.

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      1. Woodentop

        I know that the Welsh Government was thinking of implementation back in November 2014 which is why the comment by Eye, was it a spelling mistake is probably not the case. I can also confirm that by chance I had a conversation months ago with an official from the Welsh office when I put it to him that the rumour was going around that the licence fee for a landlord was going to be £5 (wishful thinking). He told then that the agents fee was already set at £3,728 and I forewarned him that the agents wouldn’t agree to that. So it would appear this has been their agenda from the start and confirms ARLA statement……. lips service, we’ll do as we please no matter what.

         

        It was also suggested that they didn’t implement earlier as the election was looming and this wasn’t going to be a vote winner for the labour dominated Welsh Government.

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        1. fluter

          Do you have the name for the official who advised the agents fee was already set and the date you spoke to him/her? I was told yesterday the fee was only agreed last week! Something isn’t right for sure…….

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          1. Woodentop

            Regrettably no I can’t name but I can assure you of this, they have had that figure for months, if they are telling you that they only just came up with it last week ….. that is not true, however if they say it was only agreed to go ahead with the figure last week that could be the case but they new months ago after I told them agents were not going to accept it and for some unaffordable if they didn’t reduce it dramatically.

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  6. Will

    Should reduce the supply of rented property in Wales!

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    1. Woodentop

      And the like of small one man band agents. I can just see the corporates praying it doesn’t change so that they can pick up the abandoned business

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  7. Woodentop

    I’m surprised that this story is down the list of todays news on EYE. Welsh agents need to get behind each other and complain to their MP’s asap. The public are going to go ape … they still don’t know … this is a direct copy from Rent Smart Wales ….

     
    I own and manage my own rental properties and also manage others’ rental properties.  What do I need to do?
    You need to register your own properties. The owners of the other properties need to register their own properties and to name you as the individual who carries out letting and property management work at those addresses. You will then need to apply for an agents’ licence yourself in order to carry out the letting and management works at the houses that you do not own. You will also need a landlord licence for your own properties.

     

    So a private landlord will need to pay £144 for 5 years. If they look after another property they do not own, (a family relative for example when they only show someone around the view … nothing else is classed as agent activity) they fall under an agent and have to pay £3,728 for 5 years.

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    1. fluter

      Surely there are more Welsh agents and/or landlords out there that have an opinion on this matter? If so let’s hear it. As for the rest of the UK, you know what’s coming!

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      1. fluter

        A dislike, for what exactly?

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        1. Woodentop

          Someone must be having a joke with you. I’m surprised by the lack of response being shown on EYE  ….. if I was to mention another subject, wink wink,  we would be getting on for 200 posts.

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