The Renting Homes Act represents the ‘biggest change to housing law in Wales for decades.’ Effective from the 1st December 2022, the Act will affect how landlords in Wales are able to rent out their properties, as well as how tenants rent from them, communicate with them, and live in rental properties across Wales. Since all social and private tenants and landlords will be affected, it’s important to understand what the Act actually means for you. In this article, we’re breaking down the most important parts of the Act and how they’ll impact your tenancy.
How does the Renting Homes Act (Wales) affect tenants?
The Renting Homes Act aims to make renting easier and to give you more security in your tenancy.
- Tenants & licensees become ‘contract-holders’Under the Act, tenants and licencees are now called ‘contract-holders’.
- Tenancy agreements become ‘occupation contracts’Your tenancy agreement will now be referred to as an ‘occupation contract’.
- Receive a written contract. Your landlord now has to provide you a written contract that clearly lays out your rights and responsibilities as a contract-holder. It must include all the terms of the contract including: your name and the name of your landlord, their responsibilities for repair, requirements for notice and more.If you are in a social rental, you will receive what is called a ‘secure contract’. For private tenants, you will receive a ‘standard contract’.
- The property must be fit for human habitation. If your home is not safe to live in, you do not have to pay your rent if your landlord does not fulfil their duties.
- The no-fault period increases from 2 to 6 months. This means your landlord has to give you a minimum of six months of notice if they want to end the contract, as long as you have not broken a term of your contract.Additionally, they cannot give you such notice until at least 6 months after you first move in.
- Fixed term contracts. Subject to you not being in breach of the Contract, if you are on a fixed-term contract, your landlord cannot try to end your contract. It is no longer possible to include a break clause in a fixed term contract that lasts for less than 2 years.If your fixed term is for longer than 2 years, your landlord can’t give you notice until you’ve been living in the property for 1.5 years.
- Greater protection from eviction.
- Improved succession rights. This means clearer guidelines on who has the right to continue living in a rental property even after a current tenant dies.
- More flexibility for joint-contract holders. Under the Act it’s now far easier to change who is on an occupation contract since you don’t need to end your original contract to make the amendments.
How does the Renting Homes Act (Wales) affect landlords?
From a landlord’s perspective, the Act should work to simplify your responsibilities and duties. However, there are also significant changes in how you can end an occupation contract and the legal timelines:
- 2 types of contract only. ‘Secure’ for social rented sector and ‘Standard’ for private rented sector. You are now expected to present a ‘written statement’ to your contract-holders that outlines all the terms of their contract.You must present this written statement within 2 weeks of their move in date.
- New duty to ensure homes are fit for human habititation. You are obliged to undertake proper electric safety testing and install working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. You also need to make sure that the structure and the outside of the property are kept in proper repair.You will not be able to collect your rent if your property is found to be unfit for human habitation.
- Easier repossession of abandoned properties. You no longer need a court order to repossess your property, but you do need to give four weeks of notice and carry out proper investigations to confirm the property is in fact abandoned.
- Changes to how you end occupation contracts. If your contract holder has breached their contract, then you only need to give them 1 month of notice. However, the ‘no-fault’ period has been extended to a minimum of 6 months. And you can only give a no-fault notice from 6 months after your tenant moves in.Additionally, you can now only include break clauses in fixed term contracts that last for more than 2 years.
The Renting Homes Act (Wales): What do I need to do?
The changes ushered in by the Renting Homes Act are significant. They’re bound to have a broad impact across Wales on the quality of rentals and improving the general rental experience for contract-holders across the country. For landlords that are feeling confused about the appropriate changes you need to make to your key documentation and other aspects of your day-to-day property management, we’re here to help. Our dedicated property team can advise on the recent changes and support you in updating everything to stay compliant.
For contract-holders, knowing and understanding your rights and responsibilities is critical. If you want legal advice about your rental property and your legal position vis-a-vis your landlord, get in touch with one of our specialist lawyers.