The Residential Landlords Association has roasted the enforcement policies and provisions for the controversial Rent Smart Wales initiative which begins in only two weeks' time.
The RLA says that with just nine enforcement officers - and thousands of landlords and agents still to register - the initiative is having a chaotic start.
Under the Rent Smart Wales scheme letting agents and landlords who are not licensed by November 23 will be open to criminal prosecution.
Landlords with properties in Wales who carry out any management activity will be acting illegally if they continue to operate beyond this deadline without a licence, with a breach of the requirements both a criminal and a civil offence. Penalties include fines, loss of Section 21 rights and rent repayment or rent stopping orders.
The association claims that Cardiff council, which polices the scheme across Wales, is struggling to cope with enquiries about the scheme.
“We warned registration and licensing would be ineffective and a bureaucratic nightmare, but it is fast turning into a complete fiasco. The communication programme for Rent Smart Wales has not been good enough. The government vastly underestimated the size of the challenge ahead and aren’t property equipped to deal with enquiries, let alone the enforcement of the legislation" explains Douglas Haig, RLA director for Wales.
To comply with the new rules, introduced under the Housing (Wales) Act 2014, landlords must register as a landlord with Rent Smart Wales. Those who undertake management activity - including letting agents - must take a training course from a registered provider such as the RLA then complete their licence application. Licences last for five years from the date they are granted.