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Thousands of Welsh landlords at risk

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keys-hand-overWITH tens of thousands of landlords yet to register with Rent Smart Wales, LHS Solicitors LLP is urging them to act quickly to meet the November 23 deadline and avoid breaking the law.

All landlords must submit their details to a central register through the scheme introduced by the Welsh authorities to comply with new regulations on renting property in Wales set out under the Housing Act (Wales) 2014.

With less than two weeks until the deadline, those that fail to register could face court and, if convicted, a fine of £1,000.

Landlords who self-let or self-manage and are involved in letting and property management activities such as arranging viewings or collecting rent, require a landlord licence by the same deadline.

Failure to obtain a licence or to comply with other elements of the legislation could result in severe consequences including a fixed penalty of up to £250, rent stopping orders, rent repayment orders or even prosecution.

Letting agents that carry out letting or property management activities on behalf of landlords will need to apply for their own agent licence. When applying for licences, both parties must also be able to prove that they are ‘fit and able’ to hold a licence and that they have completed appropriate training.

The process of completing the licensing takes up to eight weeks, although registration online takes just a few minutes.

Rianda Markram, lawyer at LHS Solicitors LLP, explains that despite the extra administration, the new regulation is a positive step forward: ‘‘With the introduction of Rent Smart Wales, landlords and agents will be able to uphold a positive reputation as the system aims to prevent criminals from becoming involved in the management or letting of properties, significantly improving the overall standard of rented housing in Wales.

‘‘Despite some landlords feeling as though the process is a burden, once they are registered and those that manage or let properties are trained and licensed, this then lasts for five years. Landlords were granted a 12 month grace period which began in November 2015 to register, get trained and become licensed, so there has been plenty of opportunity to take action. The inconvenience of following the process may be a small price to pay to achieve a quality rental system for Wales.

‘‘There are enormous benefits for good landlords and agents as Rent Smart Wales keeps them informed of their responsibilities, while the arrangement affords essential protection to tenants.’’

For further information on how to register, get access to training or to apply for a licence, visit: https://www.rentsmart.gov.wales/en/

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Education Minister announces ‘back to school’ plans for September

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Decision backed with £29 million to recruit, recover and raise standards

The Education Minister, Kirsty Williams, has today confirmed that all pupils will be able to return to school in September.

“plan to open in September with 100% of pupils physically present on school sites, subject to a continuing, steady decline in the presence of COVID-19 in the community.”

The Minister announced that:
 Schools will return to full capacity, with only limited social distancing within contact groups.
 At full operations, a contact group should consist of around 30 children.
Some direct or indirect mixing between children in different contact groups will also be unavoidable, such as on transport, receiving specialist teaching or due to staffing constraints.
 Social distancing for adults should remain in line with regulations and
guidance.
 Schools will be required to minimise the risk of transmission by taking other mitigating measures using the hierarchy of risk controls.
 Every school should continue to be “Covid Protected” – having carried out
risk assessments and mitigated them with a combination of controls such
as hand and surface hygiene, one-way systems and so forth.
 If early warning information shows a local incident or outbreak then nearby schools should implement appropriate restriction measures.
 Each school will be provided with a supply of home testing kits.
The Minister confirmed that the autumn term will start on 1 st  September and schools that can accommodate all pupils from the start of the term should do so.

The Minister outlined plans just hours after confirming the Welsh Government would make £29m available to ‘recruit, recover and raise standards’ in Welsh schools in response to the impact still felt from the pandemic.

Commenting on the additional funding announced, the Minister added: “We will recruit, recover and continue to raise standards.”

It is thought that there will be around 800 newly qualified teachers in September and around 800 supply staff currently working within Wales.

“With this funding, we will recruit the equivalent of 600 extra teachers and 300 teaching assistants throughout the next school year.

“We will target extra support at Years 11, 12 and 13, as well as disadvantaged and vulnerable learners of all ages.

“The support package, provided at a school level, could include extra coaching support, personalised learning programmes and additional time and resources for exam year pupils.

“We must never lower our expectations for any of our young people, no matter their background.

“Together, we will continue to raise standards for all, reduce the attainment gap and ensure we have a system that is a source of pride and public confidence.”

Councillor Ian Roberts, WLGA Spokesperson for Education, said: “Since schools closed at the start of the crisis, many children and young people have felt anxious about loss of learning and not being able to see their friends.

The Minister’s plan today will enable schools to safely reopen classrooms from September. Local authorities will work closely with their schools to make sure that necessary arrangements are in place to abide by Welsh Government guidance.

“Our schools have been hit by severe disruption during this pandemic, and we welcome the £29m pledged by the Minister for targeted support to minimise the effects of the past few months on pupils. We will continue to work together in partnership the safest and best possible learning experiences for our children and young people, especially in such challenging circumstances.”

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Police urge visitors to stay safe and respect Wales as travel ban is lifted

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POLICE are urging visitors to say safe and respect Wales as they get set to welcome visitors this weekend.

Dyfed-Powys Police has issued a message to people preparing to travel to mid and west Wales after the requirement to stay local was lifted on Monday (Jul 6), asking them to be safe, sensible and respectful.

With people now able to travel around Wales and to cross the border into the country, coupled with a fine weather forecast, police are expecting visitors to arrive in droves to enjoy the Dyfed-Powys area.

Temporary Chief Inspector Andy Reed said: “We are very lucky to police beautiful areas across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Powys, which attract thousands of visitors every week over the summer months.

“With restrictions having been in place since March, we understand that people are now keen to venture further afield and enjoy the beaches, mountains and countryside they’ve missed, and are anticipating a busy weekend ahead.

“Our officers look forward to welcoming you, and will be here if you need any help, but we ask that you help us by being respectful of the areas you visit, and by planning your journey before you set off.”

For anyone travelling to areas they are not familiar with, police are recommending that they plan their route in advance, check traffic updates regularly online and by listening to local radio stations, and be prepared to turn around or reroute if necessary.

T/CI Reed said: “Many of the areas that are popular with tourists aren’t served by main roads, but by B roads that can become backlogged very quickly.

“Nobody wants to spend hours stuck in traffic when they could be enjoying a day out, and there are ways to avoid this.

“If you’re heading to the beach in Pembrokeshire, for example, don’t set your sights on one place. Make a list of beaches you could visit, and be prepared to change your plans if you hit traffic off the main road.

“If you’re planning a hike in the Brecon Beacons, take a look at a few different walking routes – there are plenty of options besides Pen y Fan, which frequently gets overrun on sunny weekends and can cause problems on the roads with high volumes of traffic and parked cars.”

Over the past three months, Dyfed-Powys Police has implemented Operation Dovecote – an engagement, encouragement, education and enforcement approach to ensuring people adhered to the restrictions. With the ease in regulations, officers across the force will take a different approach this weekend – engaging with visitors, clamping down on antisocial behaviour and working with partner agencies to ensure places are left as they were found.

T/CI said: “Our officers will be out and about across the force, making sure everyone is staying safe and respectful. With that in mind, we ask that you be mindful of people who live in the areas you are visiting by acting responsibly – we will not tolerate antisocial or illegal behaviour that will impact on them or other tourists.

“Please park considerately, leave gates and property as you find them, be careful with barbecues and don’t light fires, keep dogs under control, and check what facilities will be open before you start your journey.

“We will be working closely with partners to protect beaches, countryside and waterways – you can help us by making sure you take all your rubbish and belongings with you, and leaving no trace of your visit.”

If you need to report an incident while visiting the Dyfed-Powys area, you can use one of the following options: Online: bit.ly/DPPReportOnline, Email: contactcentre@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk or Call 101.

If you are Deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

Always call 999 in an emergency

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YMCA Llanelli charity shop will reopen to the community on Friday 10 July

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AFTER more than 14 weeks of being closed for business, YMCA Llanelli will be throwing open its doors and welcoming back much-loved customers, donors and staff on Friday 10 July.

YMCA Llanelli is one of 10 shops due to reopen over the next week as part of YMCA England and Wales’ second phase, which aims to restore more than 80 shops to their local communities by the end of the month.  

Across all of its reopened stores, YMCA will be adhering to government guidelines with additional cleaning and social distancing measures, alongside hand gel stations at each entrance to ensure a safe environment for customers and colleagues.  

Once doors are officially open donations to YMCA Llanelli are very welcome, and if donors have any questions or concerns before dropping items off, please feel free to call ahead. 

One challenge that the current crisis has created is that YMCA has fewer volunteers than before, so alongside donations staff are also appealing for volunteers to help them get back up and running. Without the dedication of hundreds of volunteers YMCA charity shops wouldn’t be possible, and so YMCA Llanelli is calling on anyone locally who may be able to help.  

Simon Green, Head of Retail at YMCA England & Wales said: “The retail team have been working extremely hard to reopen stores in a way which keeps customers, staff and the community safe, and we can’t wait to welcome everyone back for the first time since 23 March.

“It truly is a privilege to serve at the heart of communities, providing not only the chance for customers to find bargains and recycle goods, but also to gain employment experience and create new friendships. We have missed you and we are delighted to be back.”  

Money raised at YMCA charity shops across England and Wales is used to help transform the lives of young people across almost 740 local communities. From providing a warm bed for homeless young people to delivering mental health advice and counselling for those in need. Every donation or hour volunteered makes a huge difference.

To find your local YMCA shop, enquire about donations or find out about volunteering opportunities, please visit: https://www.ymca.org.uk/shops or call 0207 186 9585.

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