Rent Smart Wales is ‘failing its users by closing phone lines’

Rent Smart Wales is ‘failing its users by closing phone lines’

14:09 PM, 24th August 2022, About 2 years ago

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The National Residential Landlords’ Association (NRLA) has hit out at Rent Smart Wales after concerned landlords contacted them to say the helpline service has been closed.

As a result, NRLA contacted the organisation to discover why the service had been closed.

Rent Smart Wales (RSW) confirmed that the service – which is run for the benefit of Welsh landlords – has been closed due to a backlog of work, recruitment problems and high staff sickness levels.

MS backed NRLA calls to reform RSW

The news comes after recent calls from MS for Aberconwy, Janet Finch-Saunders, and Welsh Shadow Minister for Housing, backed NRLA calls to reform RSW.

On the RSW’s homepage landlords were previously greeted by the message, ‘We are currently unable to provide a telephone service, and this may be the case for some time’.

As a result of the NRLA’s engagement with RSW, the organisation has now updated its communications on this issue.

RSW also said that they are currently training new staff to operate the phoneline service and hope to reopen it by the end of August.

‘We do not have sufficient staff’

An RSW 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.”

They added: “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.”

‘This is an appalling move by RSW’

The NRLA’s chief executive, Ben Beadle, said: “This is an appalling move by RSW 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.”

He added: “Given a new tenancy regime is coming in December, it does beg the question about RSW’s 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.”

White Paper on improving renting in Wales

The NRLA published its White Paper on improving renting in Wales earlier this year and has been engaging with stakeholders across the PRS to raise support for all of their key asks – which include greater transparency and improvement in the overall performance of Rent Smart Wales.

Landlords in learning more about the Shadow White Paper, in which the NRLA calls for reforms to RSW, can be found on their website and for those who have concerns about RSW, they can contact their MS.

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