So Steve Clarke, Director of Welsh Tenants (I think they’ve removed the ‘Federation’, removing the acronym WTF which I think is a little unfortunate because it made me smile), has been wonderful at the recent Communities, Equality and Local Government Committee. You can see the agenda here.
He was giving evidence for the Housing Bill and said a lot of really interesting stuff, but I just picked out the two quotes below, since the first one points out that its the smaller letting agents that are the ones that can’t “fulfil their obligations” appropriately, and the need for agents and landlord to understand their jobs.
“The professional commercial sector has a number of professional bodies, and they tend to be fairly robust in terms of their knowledge and understanding of their rights and obligations. There are issues, but there are usually complaint systems to address those. My concern is about the army of smaller, non-commercial letting agents at the local level that do not seem to have the expertise to fulfil their obligations. In fact, most of the cases I have dealt with are in relation to those smaller letting agents, as opposed to the larger ones, although not exclusively. I do think, as I said, that there is a challenge on both sides to improve professional development among the sector generally. I think it is absolutely vital that, if you do let properties, if you do provide shelter, then, as a landlord, you should understand, or have an agent who understands, the considerable obligations in relation to the management of that property. I fear that there needs to be a lot of information, advice, support and training for the sector in order to bridge that competency gap, if you like, between the commercial landlords and letting agents, and the non-commercial ones.”
And in this second one, he seemed quite supportive of some more information for tenants AND landlords, and the need to make sure that people have an advice service they can go to.
“I welcome the review by the Welsh Government looking into having a single tenant support body for Wales to ensure that there are sufficient resources there to be able to support tenants to access the right information and advice going forward. I understand that the Welsh Government is looking at that at the moment. It is a considerable task, but it is significantly aided by voluntary effort. So, it is about ensuring that tenants have access to that support, information and advice.”
Lovely session to watch (here), if you’re so inclined. We don’t recommend the one interviewing landlords. It’s depressing.