The Chief Officer, HR, Legal and Regulatory Services, submitted a report to seek Cabinet approval to proposed changes to the Joint Working Agreement as outlined in the report and enter into a Deed of Variation.
The report’s background, highlighted that in April 2015, Bridgend County Borough Council, the City Council of Cardiff, and the Vale of Glamorgan County Borough Council signed a Joint Working Agreement for the provision of regulatory services across the three Council areas. The document created the Shared Regulatory Service (SRS) and the Shared Regulatory Services Joint Committee.
The Joint Working Agreement was subsequently varied by all parties by way of a Deed of Variation in 2017 to which Cabinet gave approval on 28th March 2017.
She continued by confirming, that The Renting Homes (Fees etc) (Wales) Act 2019 came into force on 5th May 2019. Since the 1 September 2019, letting agents and landlords who manage their own properties were prevented from charging any fees before, during or after a tenancy unless specifically exempt in the Act.
Enforcement of these and certain other requirements as detailed in the report, could be undertaken by the Council and Rent Smart Wales (as the Single Licencing Authority). This would contribute to a fairer and more transparent experience for tenants relying on the private rented sector.
She explained that offences are committed where landlords and/or agents fail to comply with the Act. The functions were delegated to the Shared Regulatory Service. Consequently, the three Councils wish to amend the Joint Working Agreement to add this function to the schedule of functions delegated to the Shared Regulatory Service.
On 19th November 2019 Cabinet approved the amendment of the Scheme of Delegation of Functions to include the following function at paragraph 3.56 to ensure that the relevant statutory enforcement powers under the Act are used appropriately: “To do anything which the Council has the power to do (including the power to serve any notice) that is necessary for the enforcement of any provisions contained within the Renting Homes (Fees etc) (Wales) Act 2019”.
Any changes to the Joint Working Agreement are subject to Clause 26 of the Agreement which states:
"This Agreement cannot be varied without the approval and prior written consent of all Participants. Where the Participants agree to make changes to this Agreement, a Deed of Variation shall be entered into between the Participants and appended to this Agreement”
Consequently, the Chief Officer – Legal, HR and Regulatory Services concluded, that the Council was required to enter into a Deed of Variation with the other Councils to amend the Joint Working Agreement. Such changes require ratification by each of the three Council’s in question.
The Cabinet Member – Future Generations and Wellbeing commended the report.
RESOLVED: That Cabinet:
(i) Approved the proposed changes to the Joint Working Agreement between the three Councils for the provision of Regulatory Services;
(ii) Delegated authority to the Chief Officer – Head of Legal, HR and Regulatory Services in consultation with the Interim Head of Finance and Section 151 Officer to agree the terms of the Deed of Variation to the Joint Working Agreement and to arrange execution of the Deed of Variation on behalf of the Council.