If you are a landlord and you rent out property in Wales, it is crucial you understand the Rent Smart Wales scheme. Although landlords and their agents have had to be part of the scheme since 23rd November 2015, many new or prospective landlords will have questions about how Rent Smart Wales works and how they comply with it. For example, many landlords are unsure whether they need to register with the scheme, apply for a licence – or both.
To help make Rent Smart Wales simpler to understand, we answer some of the most frequently asked questions about the scheme.
- What is Rent Smart Wales?
- Who administers Rent Smart Wales?
- What is the purpose of Rent Smart Wales?
- Do I need to register as a landlord in Wales?
- How does Rent Smart Wales define a landlord?
- Are any landlords exempt from registration?
- How to register for Rent Smart Wales
- Rent Smart Wales costs
- How long is registration valid for?
- Do I also need to apply for a licence?
- How do I apply for a Rent Smart Wales licence?
- How do I complete Rent Smart Wales training?
- What are the Rent Smart Wales fines and sanctions?
- What offences can I be fined or sanctioned for?
- Your insurance
Rent Smart Wales is a centralised registration and licensing scheme for the private rental sector in Wales. It was set up after the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 came into force. This legislation imposed new obligations on landlords. Currently, all private sector landlords in Wales have to register with Rent Smart Wales, while some (along with lettings and management agents) have to obtain a licence.
Rent Smart Wales is a central licensing authority administered by Cardiff Council in partnership with Welsh local authorities.
One of the main purposes of Rent Smart Wales is to drive up the quality of the private rented sector, helping to ensure that tenants live in safe homes. The registration and licensing scheme is designed to make it much harder for rogue landlords to operate. If landlords have their registration or licence revoked, it is very difficult for them to legally rent out their properties.
If you are a landlord who lets out domestic property in Wales, you need to register with Rent Smart Wales. This has been a legal obligation since 23rd November 2015 (although landlords were given an extra year to comply). Some landlords also need to apply for a licence (we’ll cover that a bit further below).
A landlord is a person, people, or entity that rents out property to domestic tenants. For example, a landlord could be:
- An individual
- Two or more people who jointly own a property
- A company
- A charity
- A trust
It’s worth noting that joint landlords only have to make one registration. In this case, one of the property owners must be designated as the ‘lead’ landlord.
Yes, there are exemptions.
For example, if you have a lodger in your home and you share amenities, you are exempt from registration. Similarly, holiday lets and non-permanent structures such as static caravans or house boats are exempt. Landlords who live in Wales and lease property outside of Wales also don’t have to register. For a full list of exemptions, please check with Rent Smart Wales.
If you need to register for Rent Smart Wales, you can do so by creating an online account. You’ll need to have your personal details to hand, along with addresses of your rental properties and any relevant company, charity, or trust registration numbers.
You can also make a paper application, but this will cost you more. Contact Rent Smart Wales if you wish to apply in this way.
If you are registering for the first time, online registration costs £45 and a paper application costs £84. These prices also apply to landlords who have had their registration revoked and are re-applying to the scheme.
If you are simply renewing your registration (after the initial 5-year period of registration), you’ll pay £36 online or £67.20 for a paper application.
It’s worth noting that you only have to make one application per landlord, not one application per rental property.
Registration is valid for five years, unless it is revoked before that period is completed. Once the five years has elapsed you will need to renew your registration.
If you are a landlord who doesn’t carry out tenant-find or property management duties, you do not need to apply for a license but must still register. You will also need to appoint a letting agent who does have a license to manage the property.
However, if you do carry out these duties, then you need to apply for a landlord licence and undertake the required landlord training.
If you have an agent who carries out these duties, they need to apply for an agent licence. They also have to complete approved agent training.
It’s worth noting that an agent is not simply defined as a traditional commercial agent. They could be a relative, friend, spouse or other person or organisation that carries out letting and management activities on your behalf. In these instances, they would need a Rent Smart Wales agent licence.
You can complete training directly via Rent Smart Wales or via an authorised provider. Most of the training via Rent Smart Wales is accessible online and free, although the main course (providing 30 CPD points) is currently charged at £15.
If you are applying for a licence for the first time, you must complete a Landlord Training course within 12 months before submitting your application.
If you are applying to renew your licence, you either need to complete Re-licensing Training within the previous year, or you must gain the right number of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points. If you are a landlord, you’ll need 60 CPD points. Agents need 80. CPD courses cover everything from managing student lets to fire safety and the tenant fee ban.
If you don’t comply with the registration or licensing requirements of Rent Smart Wales, you could face a range of sanctions. These include:
- Fixed penalty notices (either £150 or £250)
- Rent repayment orders
- Rent stopping orders
- Criminal prosecutions and fines
Licenses and registrations can also be revoked, making it illegal for you to continue renting out property.
There are multiple offences under the Housing (Wales) Act 2014. These include failing to register, failing to have a valid licence, appointing an unlicensed agent, failing to update certain information, and providing false and misleading information. You can find a PDF version of Rent Smart Wales’ Enforcement Policy here.
If you are an agent, it’s worth noting that having professional indemnity insurance is a condition of holding a Rent Smart Wales agent licence. If you are a landlord, now is also a good time to check whether your landlords insurance is providing the level of cover you need. For further advice on insurance and managing the risks that come with renting out property, contact Alan Boswell Group on 01603 218000.
The information in this article is guidance only, it is important for landlords and letting agents to stay up to date with the current legislation via rentsmart.gov.wales. If you are a landlord in Wales and do not comply with the relevant legislation, then you risk invalidating your insurance. Most landlord insurance policies arranged by Alan Boswell Group also have access to a legal advice helpline where policyholders can seek further advice. Any prices quoted above are correct as of May 2022 and may be subject to change.