The RLA is warning that regulations that have been laid relating to the information landlords and letting agents must present to prospective tenants before taking a holding deposit are flawed.
Last week, the Welsh Government laid regulations on holding deposits information. The Renting Homes (Fees etc.) (Specified Information) (Wales) Regulations 2019 ask for the “name, address, telephone number and any email address of the landlord (and if instructed, the letting agent)”.
However, the RLA is warning that there could be negative consequences if landlords are required to provide such detailed information so early on.
The Association is calling on the Welsh Government to withdraw the regulations as soon as possible, and recommends that they are re-laid in the New Year with point (2)(c) amended to include only the landlord’s name.
Specific concerns on the regulations are:
- Landlords would be required to provide their personal address, rather than an address upon which a notice can be served. Disclosing a landlords’ personal address so early on and before a tenancy has even begun could leave some landlords and their families at risk of being harassed.
- It would also be a requirement for landlords to give out their email address and their personal mobile number, before a holding deposit is even taken. Along with the address, this could leave letting agents in a position where they breach data protection law.
- With the regulations coming into force on 13 December, there would be less than a month for landlords and letting agents to comply with the new law. This timescale fails to take into account the time and energy that must be put into ensuring compliance, something letting agencies have already said is not possible.
What does the RLA think should happen instead?
The RLA believes there is no need for landlords to disclose such a great deal of personal information at the holding deposit stage of entering into a tenancy, especially when the information will be present in a tenancy agreement and sufficient contact information is available in a property advertisement.
The Association wants to see:
- The Welsh Government withdraw these regulations as soon as possible, recommending they are re-laid in the New Year with point (2)(c) amended to include only the landlord’s name.
- Information from landlords should only be given if the process reached the stage of a tenancy, as is currently the case.
- If the landlord has chosen to manage their property through an agency, then those contact details only need apply for the letting agency at the holding deposit stage.
- More notice for these regulations – at least three months from the laying of the regulations – so that landlords and agents have the time they need to put the changes they need to in place to be compliant with the law.
To ensure this happens, RLA Wales has written to the Welsh Housing Minister, Julie James AM, detailing its concerns and outlining its recommendations. Other Assembly Members with an interest in the Private Rented Sector have also been informed.
The Association has also asked the Assembly’s Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee to investigate whether the regulations conflict with existing data protection law and if the matter of days it has given landlords and agents to comply is sufficient.
The fees ban in Wales
The ban on tenant fees in Wales came into force in the country on 1st September. You can hear an update on the fees ban at our Future Renting Wales conference on Thursday 28th November 2019 in Cardiff.