Have you heard about the Welsh Housing Bill that’s planned for 2013? Lee Cecil, NLA Representative for Wales, shares his views.
Last week the Welsh Assembly Government published its proposals for the Welsh Housing bill. In 82 pages, the Government outlined six key plans for the private rented sector. The plans promise:
- To legislate for a national, mandatory, registration and accreditation scheme for private landlords, lettings and management agents based on agreed Codes of Practice, and ensure every tenant has a written tenancy agreement.
- To use the accreditation scheme to promote the Green Deal and other energy efficiency Initiatives.
- To work with local authorities to ensure the information generated by the accreditation scheme is used to target their actions and interventions effectively.
- To encourage more joint working between landlords, agents, local authorities, housing associations and other organisations to make the best possible use of the private rented sector for local people.
- To ensure that people in all areas have access to an effective social lettings scheme delivered, where appropriate, on a regional basis.
- To investigate information sharing between local authorities and other agencies in respect of Houses of Multiple Occupation to identify the need for action.
These proposals are in many ways a great step forward for landlords in Wales; the emphasis on professional development means that landlords will need to ensure they are up to speed on the latest developments, or else risk being left behind.
The promotion of energy efficiency is also positive news for landlords, tenants and our country as a whole; the private rental sector in Wales looks after 182,000 homes so if these are energy efficient, we will be making a difference to the environment we live in. For more information on the Green Deal and making your rental properties more energy efficient, head to the NLA Green Deal campaign page
It’s also encouraging to see that the Government proposals include a close working relationship between local authorities and landlords. At the moment, many landlords feel neglected by their local councils so it will be interesting to see how this relationship develops. I hope that local authorities will use the closer landlord relationship to create opportunities for vulnerable people and those on low-incomes to access private-rented accommodation.
Despite these great plans, the proposal for a single register does worry me somewhat. Many good landlords are fed up of being “soft targets”. They feel that additional red tape, such as mandatory registration is unfair. Instead they would much prefer councils enforce the full weight of the law against rogue landlords. If criminal landlords were rooted out of the sector there would be no ‘justification’ for mandatory registration.
New legislation is designed to target the bad landlords yet it is these people who always ignore the legislation. So I leave you with my question to the Welsh Assembly Government: “Why bother adding further laws when you don’t enforce the ones you already have?”
Perhaps we should be concentrating on where the bad landlords are operating and stop punishing those who are trying to operate successful, professional lettings.
For more information and to respond to the consultation, visit the NLA’s Welsh Housing Bill page.
Are you a landlord in Wales? What do you think of the proposed plans? Let us know your thoughts.