Thousands set to miss deadline

It now seems inevitable that thousands of residential landlords in Wales are going to be facing fines of at least £150 from next week.

The latest figures from the Communities Secretary Carl Sargeant are that just under 50,000 people have registered under the Rent Smart scheme, with a few days to go before the deadline.

No-one really knows how many residential landlords there are in Wales.

The Welsh Government has given itself an enormous range when it puts the figure at somewhere between 70,000 and 130,000.

The Residential Landlords Association estimates the figure at 110,000.

Criminal

The point is that whatever way you look at it, there will be significant numbers of people having to dip into their pockets.

Plaid Cymru's Neil McEvoy didn't hold back when he asked Carl Sargeant at the Senedd why he wasn't extending the deadline to avoid criminalising thousands of decent hard working people.

The minister denied he had ever said he was going to criminalise anyone, although technically speaking, missing the deadline will be a criminal offence.

It appears that most of those will have to pay the £150 fixed penalty to their local authority but the Welsh Government has said that if the councils believe the offence needs to be dealt with by more than a fixed penalty then they can choose to send someone to court.

Give an inch

Carl Sargeant was in no mind to give an inch on this in the chamber when he told the Conservative economy spokesman Russell George that all of this had come at the end of an 11 month process to register.

In other words, the clear inference is that landlords have had more than enough time to come to terms with the new Welsh system.

The focus now will be on how the authorities approach the penalties. Only nine people will be directly responsible for carrying out the enforcement.

A new system like this was always going to be unpopular with the industry. You would expect it to be. The political challenge is persuading people it is worth it, to make life more difficult for rogue landlords.