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Rent Smart Wales failing its users by closing phone lines says landlord association

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The National Residential Landlord Association (NRLA) has criticised the closure of a Welsh Government backed helpline run for the benefit of Welsh landlords.

Rent Smart Wales is the central licensing authority for landlord and rental property registration in Wales and is run in partnership by the 22 Local Authorities in Wales.

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Its phone lines have been been closed due to a backlog of work, recruitment problems and high staff sickness levels.

The NRLA have been calling for Rent Smart Wales reform and improvement.

A Rent Smart Wales spokesperson said: “Our telephone line is currently closed as we do not have sufficient staff to deal with the resource needs across the service. We have had to prioritise resources to ensure that the services we do provide are to a good standard and that processing activities can also continue.

“The recruitment and retention of new staff is an issue across all sectors in Wales in recent months. Be assured however that we are doing everything we can to encourage job applications and to train new recruits as quickly as possible.

“Our customers continue to be able to contact us by email, ‘Contact Us’ forms and post. These communication channels are advertised on our website, answerphone, and social media. In addition, a call-back can be requested by the customer where required”.

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NRLA Chief Executive Ben Beadle said: “This is an appalling move by Rent Smart Wales and shows a staggering disregard for the customers it serves. Many firms, including us, are finding it really difficult to recruit people in the current environment, but they adapt and plan – they don’t shut up shop.

Given a new tenancy regime is coming in December, it does beg the question about Rent Smart Wales’ preparedness at a time landlords and renters most need it. This sorry episode is another reason to reform this big bureaucratic and unaccountable beast and make it answerable to the people it serves.”

Welsh Conservative Shadow Housing Minister, Janet Finch-Saunders MS said: “This has come about as a result of a failure by Rent Smart Wales to recruit enough staff to man their lines. So severe is this failure, that they have had to close the lines altogether, depriving landlords of a vital service.

“Landlords need to be able to resolve specific queries promptly, so they can provide safe and compliant housing for the benefit of their tenants. The NRLA and landlords across Wales are rightly fuming that they are now unable to speak to an actual human on the other end of the line. Rent Smart Wales need to get their act together and fill these vacancies.

“We should certainly be looking at reforming the authority. I agree with the NRLA’s view on this and that given the plummeting availability of rental properties, the Labour Government need to do far more to support good, responsible landlords.”

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