From 23 November 2015, all self managing landlords and letting & managing agents will be able to apply for a licence with Rent Smart Wales. In addition, all landlords will be able to register from 23 November. There is a 12 month grace period from this date, after which it will be an offence to let or manage a property without a licence. After the grace period it will also be an offence for any landlord (regardless of whether they manage their property) to not be registered.
Rent Smart Wales is the name given by Cardiff City Council about the registration and licensing requirements under the Housing (Wales) Act 2014.
Under section 22 it is a requirement that all licenses issued be subject to the condition that any approved code practice must be adhered to. It is that code of practice which has been approved by the Assembly.
There isn’t anything onerous that isn’t already law to do. In the main part, it’s just a list of things that a landlord or agent is already required to do. There also useful elements titled “best practice” throughout the code which suggests ways of going beyond the law to improve standards. Those best practice parts are not mandatory.
There are a number of mandatory items within the code worthy of note:
Landlords And Agents
- All statements made about a property, whether spoken, in pictures or in writing, must be correct and not misleading.
- The prospective tenant’s consent must be sought before seeking a reference or carrying out a credit check.
- During negotiations, and before they have committed to pay any expense, the potential tenant must be provided with clear information on:
- Terms of the tenancy
- How long the tenancy will last (if a fixed period)
- Costs for which the tenant will be responsible
- Amount of any security deposit, if applicable
- The amount of any holding deposit, if applicable. You must also clearly state the reason for such a deposit, and all associated terms and conditions
- The total sum the tenant will be required to pay on signing the tenancy agreement
- Any guarantor requirements, if applicable
- Methods of payment available to the tenant
- The procedure to follow when the tenant arranges to sign the tenancy agreement
- Potential tenants must be given sufficient opportunity to read a draft or sample tenancy agreement prior to signing their tenancy agreement.
- Deductions from a tenancy deposit must not be made without suffering actual losses, and evidence must be provided to support claims, though only if a dispute is raised regarding the deduction. Losses as a result of fair wear and tear must not be deducted from the deposit.
In addition to the above requirements:
- The agent must provide the following details:
- Fees and expenses
- The terms of business between the landlord and agent
- The duration of the agreement to manage the property on the landlord’s behalf; and
- The extent of the agent’s financial authority to authorise expenditure such as essential repairs/maintenance.
- The agent must give the landlord sufficient time to read and understand the terms.
- The agent must provide the landlord with a written copy of the terms on which the instructions are based to the landlord for their records.
- An agent must disclose to a prospective tenant all fees so all the costs payable if entering a tenancy agreement are clear and understood. The same also applies to any fees which may be charged at a later date, such as any fees for the renewal of the tenancy agreement. All fees must be stated as being inclusive of Value Added Tax (“VAT”). This also includes any fees which may be charged as a result of late payment of rent. This requirement covers any property adverts an agent may produce.