The first conviction under the Rent Smart Wales licencing scheme has led to a £4,400 fine after a landlord failed to comply with legislation.
By law, all landlords and letting agents must either register or licence themselves and their properties. Self-managing landlords and agents also need to comply and obtain a licence after completing a relevant training course and passing a ‘fit and proper’ assessment.
Rent Smart Wales have released the following statement:
A Newport landlord has been fined £4,400 for operating a dangerous, unlicensed house in multiple occupation and failing to comply with Rent Smart Wales.
Robert Ivor Grovell of Tram Lane, Llanfrechfa, Cwmbran is the first landlord in Wales to be prosecuted for failing to become licensed with Rent Smart Wales, a Welsh Government scheme, which is helping to drive up standards in the private rented sector.
Rent Smart Wales requires private landlords to register and managing landlords and agents to become licensed with the scheme. Since November 23, 2016, landlords and agents who fail to comply with Rent Smart Wales are breaking the law.
Mr Grovell was prosecuted under Section 7(5) of the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 at Newport Magistrates Court for his non-compliance. The offence was one of a number brought against him by Newport City Council for housing-related offences at a property on Orchard Street in Newport to which Mr Grovell pleaded guilty. An inspection of the property by Environmental Health officers in December 2016 uncovered serious problems with the design and layout of the property and an escape route blocked with furniture and other items, both of which could have been fatal to tenants in the event of a fire. In addition, the property was occupied as a house in multiple occupation but Mr Grovell had failed to apply for the necessary licence from Newport City Council. Rent Smart Wales checks identified that Mr Grovell was registered but not licensed, even though he was carrying out management activities at the property. Since the inspection, he has completed the required Rent Smart Wales training and submitted his application for a license.
Bethan Jones, Operational Manager of Rent Smart Wales at Cardiff Council, the single licensing authority for the whole of Wales, said:
“This case is a real milestone for Rent Smart Wales, being the first prosecution of a non-compliant landlord. “This prosecution sends a strong message to other non-compliant landlords who continue to flout the law and those who haven’t complied should come forward now to avoid action against them”.
In total, Mr Grovell was fined £4,400 and ordered to pay £1,000 costs and victim surcharge of £170.
Councillor Ray Truman, Cabinet Member for Licensing and Regulation at Newport City Council praised officers for their dedication in bringing such a prosecution to court.
“This was a serious breach of regulations covering a house in multiple occupation where the residents were put at risk because of the landlord’s failure to comply with essential regulations aimed at keeping people safe in their home.
This court case should also remind landlords of the need to license houses in multiple occupation. Failing to do so could end up with an unlimited fine being imposed by the court
Newport City Council will continue to be vigilant in ensuring landlords and agents stick to the rules covering their rental properties. Well done to officers for bringing this case to a successful conclusion,” he said.
Make sure you comply with the law
Remember, Rent Smart Wales applies to all landlords that own property in Wales, even if you don’t live in Wales yourself.
Agents should be aware that to further comply with the law they must protect their tenant’s deposit within 30 calendar days of receipt with a government-authorised scheme, such as mydeposits. This also includes serving tenants with the prescribed information within the same timeframe. Agents must also be members of an external, escalated redress scheme, such as the Property Redress Scheme, and have adequate Client Money Protection insurance in place.
For more information on Right to Rent legislation read our latest blog here. You can also find out specific registration details by visiting the Rent Smart Wales website or by calling their helpline on 03000 133344.