The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 Guidance
The Renting Homes (Wales) Act will make it simpler and easier to rent a home in Wales, replacing lots of different and complex pieces of existing legislation with one clear legal framework.
The Act is currently being amended, but if passed by the National Assembly for Wales, it will come into force in Spring 2021.
How will it affect you?
Instead of the current situation where there are different types of tenancy and licence agreements, there will be two types of ‘occupation contract’:
- Secure Contract – If the property is owned by a council or housing association;
- Standard Contract – If the property is owned by a private landlord
The Act requires landlords to issue a ‘written statement’ of the occupation contract to the tenant, who will be known as the ‘contract-holder’. This will set out:
- Fundamental terms – this includes possession procedures and the landlord’s obligations regarding repair
- Supplementary terms – more practical, day-to-day matters, for example, the requirement for the contract-holder to pay rent on time
- Additional terms – any other specifically agreed matters, for example, the keeping of pets.
Additional contract changes
Joint contracts: Contract-holders can be added or removed without the need to end the contract for all. This will help avoid the risk of homelessness and will also help victims of domestic abuse, by enabling the perpetrator to be targeted for eviction.
Abandonment: Landlords will have access to a new abandonment procedure, enabling them to repossess an abandoned property without needing a court order, after serving a four-week warning notice.
Succession rights: It will be easier for certain groups of people, including some carers, to take over a person’s occupation contract on their death (‘succession’).
Fitness for Human Habitation: Landlords must ensure any dwelling subject to an occupation contract is fit for human habitation. This will include, for instance, functioning smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and electrical and gas safety certificates being in place.
Retaliatory Eviction: The Act protects a contract-holder from the practice of retaliatory eviction (where a request for repair is responded to by issuing an eviction notice).
Ending a Contract
Where the tenant is not at fault: The Welsh Government has introduced an amendment to the Act that, if passed by the National Assembly for Wales, will increase the period at the start of a new let, when a landlord’s notice cannot be issued, to six months.
The amendment will also increase the minimum notice period a landlord must give when seeking to end a contract where there has been no breach of its terms, from two months to six months.
Where the contract has been breached: If there has been a breach of contract, landlords will be able to issue a possession notice with a shorter notice period of one month.
Welsh Government will provide frequent updates on what you need to do to prepare for the Act. In the meantime, further information is available on their website here.