As previously reported, the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 (the “Act”) received Royal assent in September. A commencement date has not been announced yet but it’s possibly autumn 2015.

The Act is a means of ensuring the registering and licensing of all landlords and agents who let or manage property in Wales. Whether a licence is required or simply registration depends on the circumstances which are considered below.

As is the modern way, much of the legislation will be provided for by secondary legislation made under the Act which has not yet been published or announced. Therefore, below can only consider anything within the Act known at the time of writing.

Key definitions

Key terms can be found in section 2 of the Act.

“Domestic tenancy” means a tenancy which is an assured (including assured shorthold) tenancy, except where the tenancy is a long lease for the purposes of Chapter 1 of Part 1 of the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 (leases of over 21 years etc.), or certain shared ownership leases under the same act.

A “domestic tenancy” also includes a regulated tenancy for the purposes of the Rent Act 1977, or a tenancy which is of a description specified in an order made by the Welsh Ministers (for which no orders have been made at the time of writing).

“dwelling” means a building or part of a building occupied or intended to be occupied as a separate dwelling, together with any yard, garden, outhouses and appurtenances belonging to it or usually enjoyed with it, where the whole of the dwelling is in Wales.

“landlord” means in relation to a dwelling subject to a domestic tenancy, the immediate landlord and in relation to a dwelling that is not subject to a domestic tenancy, the person who would be the immediate landlord if the dwelling were let under a domestic tenancy. If the dwelling is subject to a Rent Act 1977 tenancy, “landlord” means the person who would be entitled to possession of the dwelling.

“rental property” means a dwelling which is subject to a domestic tenancy (assured, assured shorthold, Rent Act 1977 tenancy etc.) or, if the dwelling is marketed or offered for let under a domestic tenancy.

Registration

Registration should not be confused with licensing under the Act. Registration is entirely separate and only applies to landlords (as defined above). Letting and managing agents do not need to be registered 1.

Who needs to be registered?

All landlords must be registered under section 4 of the Act. At the time of writing, the only tenancies which make a landlord required to register are assured, assured shorthold and Rent Act 1977 tenancies. Therefore, a home owner with only lodgers will not need to be registered, nor will resident landlords as defined in schedule 1 Housing Act 1988 (converted building into flats where landlord lives in one of the flats and lets out the other(s) for example).

Other exemptions apply as found in schedule 1 Housing Act 1988 where for instance the rent is greater than £100k per annum, holiday lets and such. 2

A landlord will need to let (or market to let) at least one dwelling in Wales on a domestic tenancy (an assured, assured shorthold or Rent Act tenancy etc.) to trigger the requirement to register. If the landlord lives outside of Wales and lets a property in Wales, the landlord must also register.

Exemptions from registration

In addition to a tenancy (or licence) which is not a domestic tenancy, a requirement for a landlord to be registered does not apply for any of the following circumstances: 3

  • where an application has been made but not yet determined by the authority. (This is similar to the current licensing of HMOs where the application is sufficient until determined)
  • a period of 28 days from when a dwelling is assigned to the landlord (where a dwelling is purchased for example, the landlord has 28 days to register)
  • if the landlord is a social landlord, housing association or other persons described in an order made by Welsh Ministers
  • if the landlord takes steps to recover possession of the dwelling within a period of 28 days beginning with the date the landlord’s interest in the dwelling is assigned to the landlord, for so long as the landlord continues to diligently pursue the recovery of possession

This latter exemption is an interesting one. This says that a landlord does not need to register if the dwelling has been assigned to the landlord (by purchase for example) and as long as the landlord takes steps to recover possession within 28 days and then continues to diligently pursue the recovery of possession.

The intention behind this exemption is clearly for someone purchasing a property with a genuine intention to owner occupy. Such a purchaser should ensure some form of possession notice is served well within the first 28 days after purchase or, if notice had already been served by the previous landlord, court proceedings are started as soon as possible and ideally within the first 28 days (where possible). Where there is little more a landlord can do but sit and wait for notices to expire within the first 28 days, it might be worth sending a letter explaining your genuine intention to act upon any notice previously given. This should assist with the requirement to take steps to recover possession within 28 days.

If the landlord had some other rental property in Wales, that other property would trigger registration regardless.

Registering authority and fees

Registration will be to the licensing authority (which has yet to be determined and there could be one for the whole of Wales or multiple ones within designated areas4).

The registration form, information and fee is to be prescribed and so not yet known. A fee may be charged upon the first registration and every fifth year thereafter.5

Although the information required for registration is as yet to be determined, the contents of the register are contained within schedule 1 to the Act and give us some idea of the information which will be required. See later for full details but as a minimum it will be contact details of the landlord, full address of every rental property in Wales and details of any appointed agent in relation to each rental property.

Duty to update

Section 16 of the Act provides that the authority must be notified within 28 days of the following changes:

  • any change in the name under which the landlord is registered;
  • the appointment of a person to carry out lettings work or property management work on behalf of the landlord in respect of the rental property (note: this includes notifying any agent who is on a let only basis)
  • that a person who the landlord has previously appointed to carry out lettings work or property management work on behalf of the landlord in respect of the rental property has ceased to do so;
  • any assignment of the landlord’s interest in the rental property;
  • any prescribed changes (which at the time of writing there are none).

Revocation of registration

Section 17 provides that a licensing authority may revoke the registration of any landlord who:

  • provides false or misleading information in an application or in notifying a change
  • fails to provide details of any changes
  • fails to pay any further fee charged

Where a licensing authority intends to revoke a registration they must notify the landlord after which the landlord has 21 days to make representations. If the registration is revoked after representations, an appeal to the residential property tribunal may be made within a further 28 days.

Where, after all appeals have been exhausted (or if no appeal is lodged within time) the landlord’s registration is revoked, the licensing authority must notify the landlord’s agent (if any) and all tenants or occupiers of the rental properties registered.

Licensing

Landlords and agents must not carry on letting or property management activities or work without a licence.

Which landlords require a licence?

A landlord will need a licence in addition to registration if the landlord is to carry out any one or more lettings activities. Those activities are:

  • arranging or conducting viewings with prospective tenants;
  • gathering evidence for the purpose of establishing the suitability of prospective tenants (for example, by confirming character references, undertaking credit checks or interviewing a prospective tenant);
  • preparing, or arranging the preparation, of a tenancy agreement;
  • preparing, or arranging the preparation, of an inventory for the dwelling or schedule of condition for the dwelling.

Further, a landlord will need a licence if the landlord is to carry out any one or more property management activities. Those activities are:

  • collecting rent;
  • being the principal point of contact for the tenant in relation to matters arising under the tenancy;
  • making arrangements with a person to carry out repairs or maintenance;
  • making arrangements with a tenant or occupier of the dwelling to secure access to the dwelling for any purpose;
  • checking the contents or condition of the dwelling, or arranging for them to be checked;
  • serving notice to terminate a tenancy.6

Lettings or property management activities does not include anything done by the landlord which is arranging for an authorised agent to do something on the landlord’s behalf. 7

Where a landlord never does any one or more of these activities and instead uses a licensed letting agent, a licence will not be required. A licence is only therefore required by ‘self letting or managing landlords’.

It cannot be stressed enough that where a landlord uses a licensed agent, that landlord must not undertake any of these activities themselves without first obtaining a licence. For example, if a landlord wishes to make arrangements with a person to carry out repairs or maintenance at a time whilst the dwelling is subject to a domestic tenancy, a licence will first be required. Otherwise it will be an offence. It’s acceptable for the landlord to arrange with an authorised agent to get the repair or maintenance done though.

It seems the landlord should be able to carry out the physical repair or maintenance themselves (subject to any law governing the repair or maintenance) because the restriction defined in property management activities is for making arrangements with a person to carry out the repair or maintenance. In this case the agent must arrange access with the tenant though.

It’s okay for an unlicensed landlord to make arrangements for repairs and maintenance when the tenancy has come to an end without a licence because the dwelling will not at that time be subject to a domestic tenancy. 8 However, despite the tenancy being at an end, the landlord must not check the contents or condition of the dwelling, or arrange for them to be checked, for any purpose connected with the previous tenancy without a licence. 9 A similar provision applies for agents, the effect being that only a licensed landlord or agent will ever be able to determine the return of a deposit after the end of a tenancy (or a specialist inventory clerk that does not need a licence – see later).

Landlords might be well advised to obtain a licence even if they use a managing agent. This would allow the landlord freedom of carrying out letting or property management activities including to check the condition of the property at the end of any domestic tenancy or arranging for repairs and maintenance during the tenancy.

Exemptions to requirements for landlords to be licensed

There are a number of exemptions for a landlord and these are identical to the exemptions for registration discussed above except the application for registration is replaced with application for a licence.

Which agents require a licence?

An agent will require a licence if the agent is to carry out any lettings work. This means things done by any person in response to instructions from:

  • a person seeking to find another person wishing to rent a dwelling under a domestic tenancy and, having found such a person, to grant such a tenancy (“a prospective landlord”), or
  • a person seeking to find a dwelling to rent under a domestic tenancy and having found such a dwelling, to obtain such a tenancy of it (“a prospective tenant”).

Further, an agent will need a licence if the agent wishes to carry out property management work. This means doing any of the following things:

  • collecting rent;
  • being the principal point of contact for the tenant in relation to matters arising under the tenancy;
  • making arrangements with a person to carry out repairs or maintenance;
  • making arrangements with a tenant or occupier of the dwelling to secure access to the dwelling for any purpose;
  • checking the contents or condition of the dwelling, or arranging for them to be checked;
  • serving notice to terminate a tenancy.

Exemptions to requirements for agents to be licensed

If an agent only publishes advertisements or disseminating information providing a means by which:

  • a prospective landlord (or the prospective landlord’s agent) or a prospective tenant can, in response to an advertisement or dissemination of information, make direct contact with a prospective tenant or (as the case may be) prospective landlord (or the prospective landlord’s agent), and
  • a prospective landlord (or the prospective landlord’s agent) and a prospective tenant can continue to communicate directly with each other.

And, the agent does no other lettings work or property management work in respect of the property, then, a licence is not required. 10 This will include agents like Upad who simply provide an advertisement and pass the prospective landlord details to the prospective tenant who make direct contact and carry out viewings themselves etc. However, if such an agent wishes to offer a further service of granting a tenancy for the landlord for example, a licence will be required if the dwelling is in Wales.

Further, a licence is not required if the only thing a person does is any one (but not more than one) of the following things: 11

  • arranging and conducting viewings with prospective tenants;
  • preparing, or arranging the preparation of, the tenancy agreement;
  • preparing, or arranging the preparation of, any inventory or schedule of condition;

Nor must the person do any letting or property management work for the exemption to apply. This allows firms which only prepare inventories for example to not require a licence as long as they don’t do any other letting or property management work.

If a person does any one of the following things (and only one of the following) and does no lettings work whatsoever, no licence will be required:

  • being the principal point of contact for the tenant in relation to matters arising under the tenancy;
  • making arrangements with a person to carry out repairs or maintenance;
  • making arrangements with a tenant or occupier of the dwelling to secure access to the dwelling for any purpose;
  • checking the contents or condition of the dwelling, or arranging for them to be checked;
  • serving notice to terminate a tenancy.

There is a further exemption where things are done under a contract of service or apprenticeship with a landlord. Also, local housing authorities don’t require a licence to carry out any letting or property management work.

Landlord must not appoint an unlicensed agent

The landlord of a dwelling marketed or offered for let under a domestic tenancy must not appoint or continue to allow a person to undertake lettings work on behalf of the landlord, if the person does not hold a licence and the landlord knows or should know that the person does not hold a licence. 12

Further, the landlord of a dwelling subject to a domestic tenancy must not appoint or continue to allow a person to undertake property management work on behalf of the landlord, if the person does not hold a licence and the landlord knows or should know that the person does not hold a licence. 13

The test as to whether the landlord should know that the person does not hold a licence will likely be high because whether an agent has a licence or not will be publicly and easily available.

Obtaining licences (landlords and agents)

An application for a licence for both landlords or agents will need to be in the form as required by the licensing authority. The form will require information and be accompanied by a fee which as yet is to be prescribed.

For a landlord or agent to be granted a licence, the applicant must be a fit and proper person and training will have to have been met or will be met within a defined period.

Fit and proper person

When deciding whether a person is fit and proper a licensing authority must have regard to all matters it considers appropriate. This is a quite a sweeping statement! However, section 20 continues to provide certain matters the authority must have regard to (but not limited to those matters). Those matters are evidence which shows that a person has:

  • committed any offence involving fraud or other dishonesty, violence, firearms or drugs or any offence listed in Schedule 3 to the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (offences attracting notification requirements),
  • practised unlawful discrimination or harassment on the grounds of any characteristic which is a protected characteristic under section 4 of the Equality Act 2010, or victimised another person contrary to that Act, in or in connection with the carrying on of any business, or
  • contravened any provision of the law relating to housing or landlord and tenant.

The above evidence includes if:

  • it shows that any other person associated or formerly associated with the person (whether on a personal, work or other basis) has done any of the things set out above), and
  • it appears to the licensing authority that the evidence is relevant to the question whether the person is a fit and proper person to be licensed

It is further evidence if the person has previously failed to comply with a condition of a licence (under the Act).

Requirements in relation to training

Secondary legislation is to be brought in which will determine the content of training which may include (among other things): 14

  • the statutory obligations of a landlord and a tenant;
  • the contractual relationship between a landlord and a tenant;
  • the role of an agent who carries out lettings work or property management work;
  • best practice in letting and managing dwellings subject to, or marketed or offered for let under, a domestic tenancy;

The training is likely to be based on the current highly successful Landlord Accreditation Wales that is currently voluntary. Training events are held throughout Wales regularly and after successful completion of a test on the day, accreditation is awarded (subject to other conditions).

It is possible (and the legislation allows15) for any training already done to achieve accreditation with Landlord Accreditation Wales to be sufficient for the training element of licensing to have been met. For the avoidance of doubt, this is speculation only and a simple pointing out that the legislation allows for this. No orders or announcements to this effect have ever been made by Welsh Ministers.

Licence conditions and code of practice

Section 22 provides that when a licence is granted, it must be subject to a condition that the licence holder will comply with a code of practice and any other condition the licensing authority considers appropriate.

The code of practice is as yet to be issued under section 40 but might be based on that currently used by Landlord Accreditation Wales.

Before issuing a code of practice (or amending), Welsh Ministers must take reasonable steps to consult on a draft of the code with:

  • persons involved in letting and managing rental properties and persons occupying rental properties under a tenancy, or
  • persons whom represent the interests of those persons.

Update information, amend and revoke a licence

It will be a duty under section 23 to update any information in respect of the licence within 28 days of the change.

A licence (and in particular the conditions of the licence) may be varied by the licensing authority. New conditions may be added or existing ones changed or removed.

Unless there is some exceptional circumstance requiring a change to be made without delay, a licensing authority will notify the licence holder of its intention to amend the licence and the reasons. The licensing authority must consider representations made by the licence holder within 21 days of the notification.

A licence may be revoked if:

  • the licence holder has breached a condition of the licence;
  • the authority is no longer satisfied that the licence holder is a fit and proper person;
  • the licence holder has failed to update information;
  • the licence holder and the licensing authority have agreed that the licence should be revoked.

A licensing authority will notify the licence holder of its intention to revoke the licence and the reasons. The licensing authority must consider representations made by the licence holder within 21 days of the notification.

Expiry and renewals

A licence expires at the end of 5 years but a licence holder may apply for a renewal during the period of 84 days before the expiry date. Where an application to renew is made, the licence does not expire until the application is decided.

A licence expires if the licence holder dies or in the case of a body corporate, is dissolved.

Appeals

Appeals are governed by section 27 and an applicant may appeal certain decisions made by a licensing authority in respect of a licence. The decisions are:

  • granting a licence subject to a condition (but there is no appeal against the code of practice);
  • refusing an application for a licence;
  • amending a licence;
  • revoking a licence.

An appeal is to the residential property tribunal and must be made within 28 days beginning with the date the applicant was notified of the decision.

Enforcement, penalties and restrictions

Breaching any of the several requirements under the Act is a criminal offence and a licensing authority or local housing authority will have many powers of prosecution. Further, there are severe penalties and restrictions that also apply for breaches. The different fines, penalties and restrictions are quite mixed and complex so later is a table which should provide the information at a glance.

Power to require information

A licensing authority may request information under section 36 from any local housing authority. This information can include council tax information.

Further, a licensing authority can request documents or information reasonably required for the purpose of exercising their duties or investigating whether an offence has been committed from any of the following persons:

  • a person who applies for a licence or who is the holder of a licence under the Act;
  • a person who has an estate or interest in rental property;
  • a person who is, or is proposing to be, involved in the letting or management of a rental property;
  • a person who occupies a rental property.

It is an offence under section 39 to supply false or misleading information.

It is an offence under section 38(4) to intentionally alter, suppress or destroy any document

Fixed penalty notices

For the majority (but not all) of the offences, the licensing authority may offer the person who has allegedly committed one of the offences the opportunity of discharging any liability to conviction by payment of a fixed penalty under section 29(1).

If the person pays the fixed penalty within the period of 21 days, the person must not be convicted of the offence.

A fixed penalty notice must:

  • give such particulars of the circumstances alleged to constitute the offence as are necessary for giving reasonable information of the offence,
  • state the period during which proceedings will not be taken for the offence,
  • state the amount of the fixed penalty, and
  • state the person to whom and the address at which the fixed penalty may be paid

The amount of the fixed penalty will be either £150.00 or £250.00 depending on the offence. To see the amount and whether a fixed penalty applies, see the table of offences later.

Payment of a fixed penalty may be made by pre-paying and posting a letter containing the amount of the penalty (in cash or otherwise) to the address provided but this does not prevent payment by another method. It is submitted that payment should be made in some traceable way such as cheque, bankers draft or postal order so that evidence can be shown of the payment.

A licensing authority may use its fixed penalty receipts only for the purposes of its functions relating to the enforcement of registration and licensing.

Rent stopping orders

Where a landlord carries out property management activities or a landlord appoints an unlicensed agent, the licensing authority (or local housing authority) may make an application to the residential property tribunal for a rent stopping order under section 30.

The person who is alleged to have committed the offence does not have to have been charged or convicted of the offence for a rent stopping order to be made.

In order for a rent stopping order to be made, the authority must have given the landlord and tenant of the dwelling a ‘notice of intended proceedings’:

  • explaining that the authority is proposing to apply for a rent stopping order,
  • setting out the reasons why,
  • explaining the effect of a rent stopping order,
  • explaining how a rent stopping order may be revoked, and
  • in the case of a notice given to a landlord, inviting the landlord to make representations to the authority within a period of not less than 28 days.

The authority must have considered any representations before making the application (and must not apply before the period of 28 days to allow for representations to be made).

Where the tribunal makes a rent stopping order:

  • periodical payments payable in connection with a domestic tenancy which relate to a period, or part of a period, falling between a date specified in the order (the “stopping date”) and a date specified by the tribunal when the order is revoked are stopped,
  • an obligation under a domestic tenancy to pay an amount stopped by the order is treated as being met,
  • all other rights and obligations under such a tenancy continue unaffected,
  • any periodical payments stopped by the order but made by a tenant of the dwelling (whether before or after the stopping date) must be repaid by the landlord, and
  • the authority which made the application for the order must give a copy of it to the landlord and tenant of the dwelling.

The tribunal may not specify a stopping date which precedes the date on which the rent stopping order is made and an amount not paid back to the tenant is recoverable by the tenant as a debt due to the tenant from the landlord.

After an application by the authority or landlord, the tribunal may revoke a rent stopping order under section 31 if it is satisfied that there is no longer an offence of the landlord carrying out property management activities or an unlicensed agent being used being committed.

Where the tribunal revokes a rent stopping order, periodical payments become payable from a date specified by the tribunal (which may, if the tribunal considers it appropriate, be a date earlier than the date on which the order is revoked).

After a rent stopping order is revoked, the appropriate authority must notify any tenant or occupier of the dwelling (and in some cases the landlord of the dwelling too).

Rent repayment orders

A licensing authority, local housing authority or a tenant may make an application to the residential property tribunal for a ‘rent repayment order’ under sections 32 and 33 of the Act.

A “rent repayment order” is an order made in relation to a dwelling which requires the appropriate person to pay to the applicant such amount in respect of awards of universal credit or the housing benefit paid, or (as the case may be) the periodical payments paid, as is specified in the order.

Slightly different situations apply depending on whether it is an authority or the tenant making the application.

Authority makes application for rent repayment order

Where a licensing or local authority makes an application, there is no requirement that the landlord has been charged or convicted of any alleged offence of carrying out property management activities or appointing an unlicensed agent.

A ‘notice of intended proceedings’ must be issued which is basically the same as for the rent stopping order above.

A rent repayment order will be made by the tribunal if the tribunal is satisfied:

  • that at any time within the period of 12 months ending with the date of the notice of intended proceedings an offence of carrying out property management activities or appointing an unlicensed agent has been committed in relation to the dwelling (whether or not a person has been charged or convicted for the offence) and
  • one or more relevant awards of universal credit have been paid, or housing benefit has been paid (to any person) in respect of periodical payments payable in connection with a domestic tenancy of the dwelling during any period during which it appears to the tribunal that such an offence was being committed, and
  • the notice of intended proceedings has been complied with in relation to the application.
Tenant makes application for a rent repayment order

A rent repayment order will be made by the tribunal after a tenant makes an application if the tribunal is satisfied that:

  • a person has been convicted of an offence of carrying out property management activities or appointing an unlicensed agent in relation to the dwelling, or
  • that a rent repayment order has required a person to make a payment in respect of one or more relevant awards of universal credit, or housing benefit paid in connection with a tenancy of the dwelling.

And

  • the tenant paid to the appropriate person (whether directly or otherwise) periodical payments in respect of the tenancy during any period during which it appears to the tribunal that such an offence was being committed in relation to the dwelling, and
  • the application is made within the period of 12 months beginning with the date of the conviction or order, or if such a conviction was followed by such an order (or vice versa), the date of the later of them.

In respect of calculating any amounts that must be repaid under an order, section 33 contains a number of provisions for the tribunal to follow. It’s quite lengthy and complex so worthy of an article on its own (perhaps when a case presents itself necessitating such an article).

Table of offences and punishments

Offence Section Person Fixed penalty amount Fine (if convicted) Rent stopping order available Rent repayment order available
Failure to be registered Section 4 Landlord £150.00 Not exceeding level 3 No No
Carry out letting activity without licence Section 6 Landlord £250.00 Unlimited No No
Carry out property management activity without licence Section 7(1) Landlord £250.00 Unlimited Yes Yes
Check the contents or condition of the dwelling, or arrange for them to be checked, for any purpose connected with a previous domestic tenancy without a licence Section 7(3) Landlord £250.00 Unlimited No No (see s.32(8)
Carry out letting work without licence Section 9 Agent £250.00 Unlimited No No
Carry out property management work Section 11 Agent £250.00 Unlimited No No
Check the contents or condition of the dwelling, or arrange for them to be checked, for any purpose connected with a previous domestic tenancy without a licence Section 11(2) Agent £250.00 Unlimited No No
Appointment of unlicensed agent for letting work Section 13(1) Landlord Not available Not exceeding level 4 No (see s.30(9)) No (see s.32(8)
Appointment of unlicensed agent for property management work Section 13(2) Landlord Not available Not exceeding level 4 Yes Yes
Failure to update change on register Section 16 Landlord £150.00 Not exceeding level 1 No No
Failure to update change on licence Section 23 Landlord and Agent £150.00 Not exceeding level 4 No No
Failure to provide information in relation to licensing authority exercising it’s functions Section 38(1) Any person £150.00 Not exceeding level 4 No No
Intentionally alters, suppresses or destroys any document which the person has been required to produce Section 38(4) Any person Not available Unlimited No No
Supply false or misleading information Section 39 Any person £250.00 Unlimited No No

Prohibition on serving a section 21 notice

Section 44 provides that no section 21 notice may be given if:

  • the landlord is not registered, or
  • the landlord is not licensed and the landlord has not appointed a person who is licensed to carry out all property management work in respect of the dwelling on the landlord’s behalf.

This does not apply for the period of 28 days beginning with the day on which the landlord’s interest in the dwelling is assigned to the landlord.

It’s interesting to note the wording carefully here. There is technically no requirement under the act to appoint an agent. The offence is to carry out letting or property management activities without a licence (which includes collecting rent). A landlord could lawfully appoint a licensed agent for just let only (letting work) but still be restricted from serving a section 21 notice because nobody is appointed for property management work.

Of course, an unlicensed landlord could not collect the rent without committing an offence but in theory, the landlord could appoint one licensed agent to only collect the rent and appoint another agent to only make arrangements with a person for repairs and maintenance. However, this would still have the effect that no section 21 notice could be served because the requirement is that the landlord appoints an agent to “carry out ALL property management work in respect of the dwelling on the landlord’s behalf“.

Other items

Offences of companies

Where an offence committed by a body corporate is proved to have been committed with the consent or connivance of, or is attributable to any neglect on the part of a director, manager, or secretary of the body corporate, (or a person purporting to act in such a capacity), that person as well as the body corporate commits the offence and is liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.16

Effect on tenancy agreements

A domestic tenancy contract will remain valid and enforceable even if any one of the several requirements under the Act are not complied with (except for rent which has been ordered to be stopped or repaid or the inability to serve a section 21 notice). 17

Landlords who are trustees

If trustees constitute a landlord, the landlord may be registered or licensed under a name which is a collective description of the trustees as the trustees of the trust in question. 18

Service of notices etc. under the Act

Where a licensing authority (or local housing authority) notifies of something or serves a document, the notification or document may be given:

  • by delivering it to the person,
  • by sending it by post to the person’s proper address,
  • by leaving it at the person’s proper address, or
  • if certain conditions are met, by sending it electronically.

The conditions for electronic service are that the person to whom the notification or document is to be given must have:

  • indicated to the relevant person a willingness to receive the notification or document electronically, and
  • provided the relevant person with an address suitable for that purpose

In such a case, the authority must send the notification or document to that address.

Register of private rented housing

There will be a register of private rented housing held by the licensing authority. The details that will be held on the register are governed by part 1 of schedule 1 of the Act. Access to the register is governed by part 2.

Contents of the register

The register must record the following in respect of landlords:-

  • the name of the landlord;
  • if the landlord is a body corporate, the address of the landlord’s registered or principal office;
  • the address of each rental property in the licensing authority’s area for which the landlord is the landlord;
  • the name and licence number of any person appointed by the landlord to carry out lettings work or property management work on behalf of the landlord and the address of each rental property to which the appointment relates;
  • the landlord’s registration number;
  • the date the landlord was registered;
  • where the landlord holds a licence (under the Act) certain details about the licence including start date, licence number etc.
  • where the landlord has had a licence refused, the date of refusal and whether an appeal was lodged. If there was an appeal for which the refusal was confirmed, the date of the appeal decision
  • details of any rent stopping orders (see later).

The register will record the following in respect of agents:

  • the name of the person;
  • the correspondence address of the person;
  • if the person is a body corporate, the address of the person’s registered or principal office;
  • if the person is carrying out lettings work and property management work on behalf of a landlord in the course of a business, the address of any premises in the area of the licensing authority used for that purpose;
  • where a licence has been granted, the date the licence was granted, the licence number and whether the licence has been amended;
  • where an application for a licence has been refused, the date of the refusal, whether the refusal was appealed and where it was appealed, if the tribunal or court confirmed the authority’s decision, the date of that decision.

There are a number of points from the contents of the register worthy of note:

  • If the landlord is NOT a body corporate, the register will NOT contain the landlords address.
  • The address of every rental property 19 (within Wales) of the landlord must be held on the register.
  • Where there is an agent, the agent details must be held on the register. This information is even required where the agent only acts on a let only basis and has no other dealings with the property such as rent collection or arranging repairs.
  • In respect of agents, there is a requirement under schedule 1(2)(d) that the register must contain “… the address of any premises in the area of the licensing authority ..” where the agent does lettings work AND property management work on behalf of a landlord. Does this mean if the agent only does lettings work (or only property management work) for the landlord, the address of the premises should not be recorded? Compare with paragraph 1(2) of the same schedule which uses the term “or” when distinguishing lettings work or property management work.

Access to the register

The information contained on the register is public and if a person wishes to access the register, a request must be made to the licensing authority. Depending on what information the person has available will determine the level of access and information provided by the authority.

Person asks for information by providing the address of rental property

If a person provides the licensing authority with a request for information by giving the address of a rental property, the licensing authority must provide the following:

  • the name of the landlord of the property and the name of any agent appointed to carry out work on behalf of the landlord;
  • whether the landlord or agent (as applicable) is licensed;
  • if a rent stopping order is in effect in relation to the property, that such an order is in effect.
Person provides name of landlord or agent

Where a person makes a request for information from the register by providing the name of a landlord or name of an agent, the authority must provide the following information from the register:

  • whether the landlord is registered;
  • whether the landlord or agent (as applicable) is licensed.
Person provides registration or licence number

If a person seeking information from the register provides a registration or licence number of a landlord or, a licence number of an agent, the licensing authority must provide the following information:

  • the name of the landlord and any agent appointed to carry out work on behalf of the landlord (as applicable);
  • whether the landlord is registered;
  • whether the landlord or agent (as applicable) is licensed.

Conclusion

The licensing of landlords and agents in Wales is the biggest change in housing law since the introduction of assured tenancies. I fear in the early stages, many landlords and agents will become criminals overnight without even realising. One of the reasons given to introduce such legislation was because some landlords and agents don’t know about their responsibilities. This may be a fair statement about a small number but how does that small group being targeted know about this new legislation? Hopefully there will be substantial publicising unlike for tenancy deposit schemes.

The legislation wording isn’t the worst we’ve seen and there can’t be too many circumstances where there is doubt whether registration or a licence is required. The definitions seem to have things fairly well covered but only time will tell. Also, when reading legislation again with fresh eyes it’s surprising how often new things become apparent which weren’t at first.

In the long term though, maybe landlords will see the benefit of registration and licensing? It might be that such a regime will be the turning point for many to get out of the market and reduce supply. This might in turn increase rents within Wales – you never know! Put it this way – I don’t see rents falling in Wales as a result of registration and licensing.

I hope you find this first introduction useful and we will produce more articles as new thoughts emerge and secondary legislation is produced.


  1. Without wanting to confuse the situation, an agents details will nonetheless be held on a register. 
  2. For the avoidance of doubt, these exceptions apply at the time of writing. It is perfectly plausible that Welsh Ministers could introduce secondary legislation bringing one or more tenancies mentioned into the scheme. 
  3. Section 5 
  4. See section 3 of the Act. 
  5. section 15(4) 
  6. See sections 6 and 7 
  7. See section 6(1)(b) and 7(1)(b) 
  8. See section 7(1) 
  9. Section 7(3) 
  10. Section 10 
  11. Section 10(3) 
  12. Section 13(1) 
  13. Section 13(2) 
  14. Section 19 
  15. Section 19(2)(b) allows for requirements in relation to training that are met (in the present tense) 
  16. Section 35 
  17. Section 43 
  18. Section 45 
  19. “Rental property” means a dwelling which is subject to a domestic tenancy (assured, assured shorthold, Rent Act 1977 tenancy etc.) or, if the dwelling is marketed or offered for let under a domestic tenancy. 

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