Rent Smart Wales, a controversial scheme that require letting agents to be trained, comes into effect today after a troubled lead up to its introduction.
To comply with the new rules, introduced under the Housing (Wales) Act 2014, all agents and landlords operating in Wales must register with the Rent Smart Wales scheme, operated through a central country-wide unit at Cardiff city council.
Those who undertake management activity - including letting agents - must take a training course from a registered provider and then complete their licence application. Licences last for five years from the date they are granted.
Agents and landlords with properties in Wales are from today acting illegally if they continue to operate without a licence, with a breach being both a criminal and civil offence.
Penalties include fines, loss of Section 21 rights and rent repayment or rent stopping orders.
There have been siren voices in recent weeks claiming there had been poor take-up of the training course and a lower-than-expected number of licence applications.
Welsh Government Communities Secretary Carl Sergeant says landlords will not face action "if they have done all they can to comply”. The Welsh Government estimates there were between 70,000 and 130,000 private landlords to be registered, and says some 67,000 had registered - or started the process - by Monday evening.
The Residential Landlords’ Association says the build-up to the introduction has shown the measure to be “an unenforceable fiasco” and the authorities rejected a call to delay today’s implementation.
“It will help prevent the involvement of rogue, and even criminal, landlords and agents in the management and letting of properties,” says the scheme. “The scheme will help to protect tenants and will support good landlords and agents by helping them keep abreast of their responsibilities and legal obligations, raising the reputation of the sector.”