Wales moved a step closer to comprehensive landlord and letting agent licensing this week as the Welsh Assembly voted to approve the final text of the Housing (Wales) Bill.
Firstly, all landlords and letting agents will have to be registered, providing a clear picture of the sector and data that government can use for housing policy. In a second stage of regulation, any landlords or agents managing a property will have to be licensed and letting agents will have to belong to a recognised body.
To be granted a license, landlords or agents will have to undergo a ‘fit and proper person’ test and will undergo training to ensure they act responsibly and professionally in their business. In a move that will professionalise the sector, licenses can be revoked for poor landlords and agents. Furthermore, section 21 evictions will be unlawful if undertaken by unlicensed individuals.
With an estimated 50,000 landlords in Wales, this new bill will show how nationwide landlord licensing can function to benefit the private rented sector and renters, driving up standards without hurting the sector, as some have claimed.
Indeed, the Welsh government’s ongoing legislative programme, which will include another housing bill in the 2015 shows that politicians in England can be much bolder in finding regulatory solutions that will support tenants and take steps towards a fair and sustainable private rented sector.
Generation Rent will be working to ensure the next Welsh housing bill is as effective as possible. But we’ll also be asking parliament in the run-up to the 2015 General Election: if they can do it, why can’t we?