Lesley Griffiths AM, Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty
Rent Smart Wales, the brand name for the new registration and licensing requirements under Part 1 of the Housing (Wales) Act 2014, will be launched on 23 November 2015. From this date, the website (www.rentsmart.gov.wales) will be live. Landlords who need to register, and landlords and agents who need to become licensed, will be able to register and apply for a licence from this date. However, I must emphasise they have plenty of time in which to comply with the new legislation, as the first 12 months will focus on raising awareness of the requirements amongst landlords and agents and encouraging registration and/or licensing. This will allow ample time for them to become familiar with the requirement and take the necessary action to ensure they are compliant with the new obligations.
A considerable body of work has been undertaken to reach this point and I thank everyone who has been involved, including Assembly Members for their robust scrutiny of the legislation, particularly the Members of the Communities, Equalities and Local Government Committee, the Constitutional Affairs Committee and the Finance Committee for their help in shaping the final legislation.
Rent Smart Wales will improve the image of the private rented sector, which is an increasingly important housing option for many people. It will bring benefits to people who rent their home in the sector whilst at the same time, improve the practices of landlords and agents and help to tackle the bad landlords who give the sector a bad name. Many others have been involved in developing the policy, legislation and implementation elements of this initiative. These include, but are not limited to, key stakeholder groups including those for landlords, agents, tenants and Local Authority representative groups.
Of course, now is when the real work begins. Following its launch,, the next 12 months will see landlords registering their details with Rent Smart Wales and, for some of them, they will be considering whether they wish to become licensed themselves, or hand over the managing and letting activities of their properties to a licensed agent. Alternatively they may opt for a scenario which requires both.
I am sure letting agents will be busy too, making sure their business is heading towards compliance with their new licensing obligations. Despite the 12 month grace-period we have allowed to meet the new requirements, I know many letting agents are keen to comply with their new duties as soon as possible, as they wish to ensure their client landlords are reassured they are licensed and thus fully compliant with the law.
I know Members will be interested in progress on the implementation of the new legislation and Rent Smart Wales. I will be commissioning an independent evaluation study of the scheme. This will be accompanied by ongoing monitoring arrangements for registration and licensing and feedback on the way it operates.
From now until the launch, further information and updates on the scheme will be found at www.rentsmart.gov.wales as and when they become available.