The Tories have called for an investigation into the licensing authority for the private rented sector.
They have backed a report by the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) highlighting “serious concerns” about Rent Smart Wales, and want the Senedd to look into the matter.
Calum Davies, the Welsh Conservative Senedd candidate for Cardiff Central, is a Policy and Public Affairs Officer for the organisation.
The report Called Rent Smart Wales: The Accountability Gap, highlights what it calls an “accountability crevasse, rather than a gap”.
Mark Isherwood MS, the Welsh Conservative Shadow Housing Minister, says the data in the report “shows limited numbers of prosecutions” and “civil penalties”, and argues that “improving standards” would “result in a fairer sector for all.”
He said: “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.”
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Rent Smart Wales works to improve the quality and standard of the private rented sector and work with local authorities to take action against poor landlords who break the law and do not have the best interest of their tenants in mind.
“Ensuring the rented sector is a tenure of choice and protecting tenants remains a top priority. Rent Smart Wales has had success in helping us achieve this ambition and we will continue to work with all partners to improve the private rented sector.”
Calum Davies, NRLA Wales’ Policy and Public Affairs Officer, told Property Reporter: “The NRLA believes there has been insufficient scrutiny of RSW – an incredibly powerful body considering how much regulatory and prosecutorial power it wields – and felt a duty to fill that evidence gap.
“What is clear from that research was a lack of transparency as to how decision-making within the organisation is conducted and who is politically accountable for decisions that affect over hundreds of thousands across Wales.
“It is obviously a positive thing that RSW and the Welsh Government share the NRLA’s ambition to improve the private rented sector.
“We hope our research and its findings will advance the debate about improving standards and encourage actions to be taken that will result in a fairer sector for all.”