Rent Smart Wales (RSW) and Fitness for Human Habitation (FFHH) obligations require landlords to meet the highest of standards, meaning there is no need for councils to introduce local licensing schemes that often duplicate many conditions and increase the cost of compliance. These superfluous local schemes should be abolished, with any beneficial features and safeguards incorporated into RSW and FFHH. This will reduce costs and bureaucracy for landlords, meaning savings can be invested in improving the property and maintaining rent levels for the tenant.
Furthermore, there is a need to establish greater transparency and clear accountability for an organisation as large and powerful as RSW. This should include:
- Producing a public annual evaluation and performance report;
- Direct scrutiny by the Senedd, at least through an annual committee evidence session;
- Much greater clarity between operational and policy decision making and functions, clearly defining where responsibility lies for each; and
- Establishing an independent body with oversight of RSW, accountable to Welsh Ministers
What we are calling for:
- Incorporation of additional standards for Homes of Multiple Occupation (HMOs) into the existing RSW infrastructure and forthcoming FFHH standards
- In turn, abolition of discretionary local licensing
- Assurances that safety and managements standards for HMOs will not be compromised as part of the process
- The use of third-party data such as council tax records to identify non-compliant private rented sector (PRS) properties and landlords
- Easier compliance with less confusing requirements
- More money for landlords to spend property improvements instead of bureaucracy
- More criminal landlords targeted and prosecuted as resources shift from licence processing to enforcement
- Local discrepancies replaced with pan-Wales vision of a high standard private rented sector
Accountability and transparency in RSW
To ensure greater accountability and transparency in RSW, there should be :
- An annual public performance report
- Direct scrutiny by the Senedd through an annual committee evidence session
- Greater clarity to identify where responsibility lies for operational and policy decision-making in RSW
- An independent body set up with oversight of RSW, accountable to Welsh Ministers
- Rent Smart Wales: This body requires landlords and agents to register their rental property and undertake training to be licensed to practice in the PRS. In operation since 2015
- Local licensing: Councils in Wales impose further licensing regimes on landlords on certain HMOs. Mandatory licensing for large HMOs exists everywhere, while discretionary additional licensing is in operation in half of Wales’ 22 local authorities
- Fitness for Human Habitation standards: New safety standards that properties must meet to be legally let in the Welsh PRS. Forthcoming as part of the Renting Homes Act 2016
- 26 March 2021 - NRLA meets Welsh Liberal Democrat leader, Jane Dodds, and Housing spokesperson, Cllr Jackie Charlton
- 24 March 2021 - NRLA meets Mabon ap Gwynfor, Plaid Cymru Senedd candidate for Dwyfor Meirionydd
- 23 March 2021 - NRLA meets Rhys ab Owen, Plaid Cymru Senedd candidate for Cardiff West and South Wales Central
- 11 February 2021 - NRLA meets Cllr James Evans, Conservative Senedd candidate for Brecon & Radnorshire
- 11 February 2021 - NRLA meets with Shadow Housing Minister, Laura Jones MS (Con, South Wales East).
- 27 January 2021 - NRLA meets with Senedd committee chair, John Griffiths MS (Lab, Newport East).
- 19 January 2021 - NRLA meets with Hefin David MS (Lab, Caerphilly).
- 11 January 2021 - NRLA release the Rent Smart Wales: The Accountability Gap report. Read more here.
- 10 December 2020 - NRLA release 2021 manifesto, with streamlining licensing as its chief call. Read more here.