Source: Wales – City of Cardiff
Agent prosecuted after audit reveals shortcomings
A Cardiff letting agent who failed to provide information to Rent Smart Wales about his business has been fined at Cardiff Magistrates Court.
Robert Bistula of123-125 City Road, director of Easy Rent, was found guilty of failing to provide information as requested by Rent Smart Wales in the form of a Section 37 Notice, contrary to the Housing (Wales) Act 2014.
Enforcement action was taken after a routine agent audit of Easy Rent revealed urgent action was needed in order to comply with the conditions of the agent licence. Rent Smart Wales had requested information for the various properties he manages in the city including evidence of membership to a Client Money Protection scheme.
Agent audits are carried out to ensure that commercial licensed agents who carry out property letting and management activities are meeting the conditions of their licence, are adhering to the Rent Smart Wales Code of Practice and are complying with legislative requirements. All agents that fall into this category will be audited within the five year period of their licence, and it is a licence condition to comply with an audit request.
The process involves issuing a rating following completion of the audit, ranging from urgent action needed to a best practice rating. A set of recommendations for improvement, regardless of the rating level, is then issued to the agent.
Mr Bistula failed to provide the information requested and following the adjournment of the case several times, was successfully prosecuted by Rent Smart Wales at a trial at Cardiff Magistrates’ Court. He was fined £2,000, with £2,400 costs and a £170 victim surcharge.
Cllr Lynda Thorne, Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities at Cardiff Council, the single licensing authority for Rent Smart Wales, said: “Agent audits are an important tool for Rent Smart Wales to ensure commercial letting agents are complying with the conditions of their licence and the Code of Practice. They are intended to make sure agents are providing a high quality, professional service and meeting all of their legal obligations and in doing so, are protecting the interests of tenants and landlords and contributing towards a continuous improvement culture in the private rented sector in Wales.
“As this case at Cardiff Magistrates Courts shows, enforcement action will be taken against agents whose non-compliance is highlighted as a result of an audit.Failure to engage with the audit process may result in a licence being revokedso it is essential that agents ensure their house is in order in terms of their business practices and compliance with Rent Smart Wales.”