A report highlighting serious concerns about Rent Smart Wales – the nation’s registration and licensing authority for the private rented sector – has been published. Called Rent Smart Wales: The Accountability Gap, the report, authored by the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) Research Observatory, is described as highlighting an “accountability crevasse, rather than a gap”.
Mark Isherwood MS, the Welsh Conservative Shadow Housing Minister, commented:
“The NRLA has hit the nail squarely on the head with this report, and rather than an ‘accountability gap’, it’s more an accountability crevasse.
“There is no regular evaluation of Rent Smart Wales (RSW), hindering improvements to the regime. The data also shows limited numbers of prosecutions, civil penalties and other forms of enforcement activity. Absent too is a central, guiding strategy for the private rented sector from the Welsh Government, which has contributed to RSW’s shortcomings, and a signal failure is that it has not engaged well enough with landlords, tenants, or local authorities.”
Mr Isherwood continued:
“I agree with the NRLA that there has been insufficient scrutiny of Rent Smart Wales, which is an incredibly powerful body considering how much regulatory and prosecutorial power it wields.
“Its lack of transparency as to how decision-making within the organisation is conducted and who is politically accountable for decisions that affect hundreds of thousands of landlords and tenants across Wales, is deeply disturbing.
“This report provides a sound basis for further investigation by the Senedd itself, and should be used to advance the debate about improving standards and encourage actions that will result in a fairer sector for all.”