Fears are increasing that thousands of buy-to-let landlords could face fines and even prosecution for failing to sign up to a new registration and licensing scheme in Wales.
It is now more than a fortnight since the Rent Smart Wales scheme became law. However, it is estimated that thousands of private landlords in the country have still yet to sign up, meaning they could be letting out properties illegally.
Property experts at the Cardiff office of Bruton Knowles are concerned that many buy-to-let investors outside of Wales could also be set for a shock.
The firm claims that the major issue for landlords not based in Wales is the lack of awareness that they had to sign up to the scheme. Rent Smart Wales represents a wholesale change for the private rental sector in the country.
All landlords and letting agents must register with the scheme and undergo training to obtain a licence, should they wish to self-manage their investment.
The deadline for which to register was the 23rd November, after which it became an offence to let or manage a property in Wales without the sufficient licence.
Caroline Jones, of Bruton Knowles, said: ‘The enforcement powers under Rent Smart Wales are now active. This means failure to comply with the legislation is an offence. However, we know of numerous cases of people living outside of Wales who had no idea on the new Rent Smart scheme. Our fear is that there are many landlords out there who are blissfully unaware of their legal obligation.’
Jones argues that there was a lack of pro-activeness shown to promote the scheme outside of Wales, leaving many investors with landlord insurance, ‘completely in the dark.’
Continuing, Jones asked: ‘One final consideration is how will Rent Smart Wales enforce any fines on those who genuinely didn’t know they had to register. We can see a lot of resistance by those who will claim they didn’t know anything about the scheme.’
‘Tenants who have any concerns about the conduct of their landlord or agent can report this via the Rent Smart Wales website, however we think an element of common sense should be employed if there are cases of owners located outside of Wales, having not signed up,’ Jones concluded.