Landlord registration and licensing

Landlord registration and licensing helps monitor private landlords and agents and ensure they are suitable people to let out property. The scheme is run by Rent Smart Wales.

If you live in an House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) your landlord must be registered and licensed with the Rent Smart Wales scheme in addition to complying with extra licensing rules. Our page on HMO’s explains these rules in more detail.

What is landlord registration?

All private landlords of ‘domestic tenancies’ in Wales must be registered with the Rent Smart Wales scheme. This means that if you have an assured shorthold tenancy, an assured tenancy or a regulated tenancy your landlord should be registered. If he/she is not registered then they will be committing an offence and can face penalties.

In order to register, a landlord must provide accurate and up-to-date information about themselves and all of their properties that they operate in Wales. They will also have to pay a fee.

What is landlord licensing?

Any person who lets or manages a ‘domestic tenancy’ in Wales must have a licence from the Rent Smart Wales scheme. This includes landlords who self-manage their properties and letting agents who may have been appointed by the landlord.

This means that if you have an assured shorthold tenancy, an assured tenancy or a regulated tenancy your landlord or their letting agent should have a licence. If they do not have a licence they might be committing an offence and could face penalties.

How does my landlord/agent get a licence?

The application for a licence can be made online at the Rent Smart Wales website or by requesting a paper application by ringing 03000133344.

To submit a valid licence application, the landlord or agent must:

  • pay a fee,
  • declare that they are a ‘fit and proper’ person, and
  • provide evidence that they have been on training about their rights and responsibilities as a landlord.

The licence will last for 5 years. In order to keep their licence, the landlord or agent must keep to the requirements of a Code of Practice. If you are worried about the conduct of your landlord or agent who is licensed you can report it to Rent Smart Wales who will investigate. If your landlord or agent is not following the Code of Practice, they run the risk of losing their licence or not being able to have their licence renewed when it expires. Complaints can be made anonymously if you prefer.

What is the ‘fit and proper person’ test?

The ‘fit and proper person’ test means that private landlords and agents have to meet a certain standard before they can legally rent out property. The test is designed to weed any bad landlords or agents out of the system and to improve the standards in the private rented sector generally. This should give you, as a tenant, extra protection from bad landlords.

How does the ‘fit and proper person’ test work?

When Rent Smart Wales receives an application for a licence from a landlord or agent, it will have to decide whether or not they are a ‘fit and proper person’ to let out property.

In deciding whether an applicant is ‘fit and proper’ Rent Smart Wales can consider information showing that the applicant, or anyone associated with them, has done any of the following:

  • committed a criminal offence
  • discriminated against someone in any business activity
  • broken any other laws in relation to housing.

A criminal conviction doesn’t necessarily mean that an applicant won’t pass the test. The council will have to look at every case individually and decide whether the information received will affect the person’s ability to be a good landlord or agent. It can also consider anything else that is relevant.

What training does my landlord or agent have to do in order to get a licence?

Before they can be given a licence your landlord or agent must show evidence that they have been on relevant training, covering the main rights and responsibilities of renting and managing properties in Wales.

How do I find out if a landlord is registered and/or licensed?

If you’re looking for a place to rent, you can check that the landlord and/or agent is registered and/or licensed before you agree to move in or sign a tenancy agreement. You can do this by checking the public register online or you can phone 03000 133344.  You will need either the landlord or agents name and the address of the property.

If your landlord and/or agent is licensed but you are having concerns about their conduct you can report this to Rent Smart Wales who will investigate the problem.

What if my landlord isn’t registered or my landlord/agent has not yet got a licence?

If your current landlord hasn’t applied to register, or your landlord/agent has not applied for a licence, make sure you let them know that they should do so – it’s possible that they may not have realised yet.

Action by Rent Smart Wales or your council

Landlords or agents that are not registered and/or licensed can be prosecuted. They may also face one of the following penalties:

  • a fixed penalty notice – giving landlords or agents the option to pay a fixed penalty of £150 or £250 (depending on the offence) rather than have a conviction
  • a rent stopping order (RSO) – stopping rent being paid by the tenant for a period
  • a rent repayment order (RRO)– requiring landlords or agents to repay any rent, housing benefit or universal credit paid to them for a period.

It is up to your local council or Rent Smart Wales to decide what action to take if your landlord or agent does not register or get the right licence. Contact your council’s public protection department or Rent Smart Wales directly if you are concerned. RSOs and RROs can only be made by the Residential Property Tribunal.

Action by the tenant

Where a landlord has been successfully prosecuted, or a RRO has already been made in respect of housing benefit or universal credit, tenants can apply to the Residential Property Tribunal themselves for an RRO so that they can have some of their rent repaid. If you want to do this contact the Residential Property Tribunal Wales. Any application by a tenant must be made within 12 months of any conviction or RRO and costs £155 (unless you are on certain income related benefits). The application form for a tenant to apply is here.

Restriction on eviction

If you have an assured shorthold tenancy and your landlord or agent is not registered or properly licensed, any section 21 notice that they may have given you to end your tenancy cannot be relied on to evict you. If you receive a notice and are in this situation, see our page on eviction of assured shorthold tenants and get advice as soon as possible.

Where can I found out more information?

Rent Smart Wales has produced a useful Guide for Tenants in Wales, which sets out the rights and responsibilities of landlords, agents and tenants in Wales, including more information about licensing. You may also stay up to date with Rent Smart Wales on Facebook or Twitter.

Contact Shelter Cymru for more advice on the scheme.  Call our expert housing advice helpline on 0345 075 5005 or email our housing advice team. If you prefer, visit advice near you to find a local Shelter Cymru advice surgery where you can talk to someone in person.

We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 0345 075 5005.

Phone an adviser

If you have a housing problem, call our expert housing advice helpline
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This page was last updated on: July 30, 2018

Shelter Cymru acknowledges the support of Shelter in allowing us to adapt their content. The information contained on this site is updated and maintained by Shelter Cymru and only gives general guidance on the law in Wales. It should not be regarded or relied upon as a complete or authoritative statement of the law.