The number of private sector landlords who have registered with the Welsh Government’s Rent Smart Wales scheme has barely struggled past ten per cent of those required to do so, with only five months left of the year long registration period, the Welsh Liberal Democrats Housing Spokesperson, Councillor Peter Black has revealed.
A freedom of information request on the Welsh Government’s website reveals that as of mid June this year, fewer than 13,000 landlords have registered with Rent Smart Wales despite the fact that participation is compulsory under the Housing (Wales) Act 2014. Landlords have a year to register from 23rd November 2015, when the scheme opened for applications. The Welsh Government estimate that the total number of private landlords in Wales is between 70,000 and 130,000, meaning than just 10% of the total have signed up.
Compulsory registration was introduced by Welsh Ministers in the teeth of fierce opposition by landlords and their representatives. It is designed to drive up the quality of rented accommodation in Wales through training courses for landlords and by giving local councils a better understanding of where properties are situated. However, there are no extra resources for the inspection of properties by local councils nor to enforce registration.
Commenting on the poor take-up, Councillor Black said: “With seven months of the 12 month registration period gone, I would have expected a much higher number of registrations. If take-up continues at such a low-level then the scheme will struggle to be credible.
“The responsible Minister needs to outline how he will address this problem. In particular there must be be more publicity and a more proactive approach to identifying and signing up landlords around Wales.
“The Welsh Government cannot do this on the cheap. If they do not put resources into this now and properly fund enforcement after the registration period ends in November of this year, then Rent Smart Wales could become an embarrassing flop.”