2016 will be remembered for the string of high profile deaths in the world of music and show-business. Here RLA Director for Wales Douglas Haig pays tribute to much-loved musician and style icon David Bowie, who was among the famous faces we lost this year. Can you spot the song titles hidden in his New Year message?
David Bowie once sang, “It ain’t easy” – which has certainly been the case for landlords across the UK this year.
Throughout 2016 the PRS in Wales has been going through changes, with several reforms both here in Wales and from the Government in Westminster. The PRS in Wales is unique in that it must answer to the Welsh Government, and what sometimes feels like a Big Brother Westminster government. This year the two Governments have worked in tandem like sound and vision to change the picture of the PRS, unfortunately that picture looks grim and landlords in Wales are under pressure.
On a UK level, the biggest story of the year has been the removal of Mortgage Interest Relief (MIR) and how the PRS will react. Although it was announced back in 2015 it is important to continue the repetition about how hard this will impact the PRS and make sure the arguments don’t become words on a wing or go out of fashion. Some things however aren’t imposed on Wales from Westminster, for example the Right to Rent or the ban on agency fees. But don’t cast off your sense of doubt, these regulations could well come to Wales; like Lazarus the conversation on agency fees in Wales has been resurrected since the Autumn Statement announcement.
It’s been a big year for landlords in Wales and at the start of 2017 seems like a good opportunity to consider what we all go through, where we are now, and what landlords can look forward to. Through 2016 we’ve seen the rollout of Rent Smart Wales and the passing of the Renting Homes Act. It’s no game to suggest that landlords in Wales have arguably has the worst 2016 of landlords in the UK. Many landlords are still in sorrow listening to songs for Bob Dylan as they sit on hold trying to get through to a Rent Smart Wales operative, often resulting in defeat and trying again the next day. Many more will be considering their business arrangements in the wake of MIR changes, restructuring to survive, while absolute beginners in Wales may be wondering why they started.
Although the Renting Homes Act isn’t yet in force in Wales, 2017 will certainly be the year most, if not all, of the details are finalised. If it feels as if time will crawl when it comes to the implementation of the Renting Homes Act, that’s because it will. With over 22 regulations to make before it can be implemented, we’re looking at the back end of 2017 / 2018 before landlords start to use this day-in-day-out.
If all that hasn’t left you too dizzy, there have been a number of highlights throughout 2016 for the RLA and landlords in Wales. You may have seen us outside and about this year more than ever, representing the RLA from station to station, at events with politicians, other housing sector representatives and giving the landlord view on a range of matters. All this is part of improving the public image of landlords, something which few people would disagree is a large part in overcoming the misconceptions of our industry. We’ve also got a few things lined up in terms of legislation and policy that will work for landlords for early 2017, but these have yet to be finalised and in a political world we can’t give everything away until its confirmed.
A particular milestone in 2016 for RLA Wales was our involvement in the Welsh Assembly elections, and our work with the Homes for Wales coalition. The coalition is the entire housing sector coming together with one voice, arguing to raise the profile of housing up the agenda and to build more homes, which is ultimately the solution to a lot of the issues faced by landlords and tenants. To represent PRS landlords on the coalition shows how far the RLA has come in our standing within the housing sector, and that PRS landlords are now beginning to be taken seriously. The coalition has also won / been nominated for a number of awards, including Gold at the CIPR awards for best campaign during the election, best local government campaign at the UK wide public affairs awards and best campaign in Wales. There is still a long way to go, but we are breaking ground here in Wales.
It’s been a tumble and a twirl for landlords through 2016 with 2017 looking as if landlords will still be dancing with the big boys in Wales and Westminster over a lot of key issues. So, let’s dance into the new year together and continue the hard work fighting for landlords, remembering that if landlords continue to work together and make our case about a responsible sector, we too can be heroes.
How many David Bowie song titles can you find above? Let us know for the chance to win 1 years free membership with the RLA.
1. Entries must be received by 20th January 2017.
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3. RLA reserve the right to withdraw or amend the promotion without prior notice. The promotion is not transferable and cannot be used in conjunction with any other offers, promotions and discounts.
4. If two or more entries have the same correct answers, the winners will be drawn at random.
5. One current member of the RLA will receive 1 years membership free at renewal. One non-member of the RLA will receive their first year of RLA membership for free.