From December 1, 2022, new changes to the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 have been brought into force, something the Welsh Government has called the biggest change to housing law in Wales for decades.
The new legislation means social and private tenants will see a difference in the way their contracts are provided, how their homes are maintained, and how they communicate with their landlords.
All social and private landlords – including those who rent properties through agents or rental management companies – will need to comply with the changes and make the appropriate updates to their procedures and paperwork to be in line with the new law.
We spoke with Swansea solicitors, Hutchinson Thomas, about how these upcoming changes will affect tenants and landlords.
What are the changes?
For those renting, the new law will see tenants and licencees referred to as ‘contract-holders’, with tenancy agreements being replaced by ‘occupation contracts’.
Becoming a contract-holder will mean receiving a written contract setting out your rights and responsibilities. It will also mean an increase in the ‘no fault’ eviction period from two to six months – with greater protections against eviction generally.
There will also be improved succession rights – setting out who has a right to continue to live in a dwelling if, for example, the currently named tenant passes away.
In addition, there will be more flexible arrangements to make it easier to add or remove individuals (contract-holders) from a joint contract.
All these changes are aimed at making renting easier, with greater security and peace of mind for tenants.
For landlords, the changes will mean a simpler system with two types of contract: ‘Secure’ for the social rented sector; and ‘Standard’ for the private rented sector.
The secure contract replaces the secure tenancies issued by local authorities and assured tenancies issued by Registered Social Landlords (RSLs).
The standard contract will become the default contract for all private rentals but can also be used by local authorities and RSLs in specific circumstances. For example, a supported standard contract for supported accommodation.
The new changes will also mean increased responsibility for landlords to ensure homes are fit for human habitation – including gas and electrical safety testing and ensuring smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are fitted.
In addition, a clause has been introduced into the new law which means abandoned properties can be repossessed without needing a court order.
When will the changes be implemented?
All existing tenancy agreements have converted to the relevant occupation contract on the day of implementation, 1 December 2022, and landlords now have a maximum of six months to send a written statement of the converted contract to the contract-holder. This statement can either be a hardcopy or – providing the contract-holder agrees – an emailed, electronic version.
Any rentals which begin after the implementation date (December 1, 2022) will require the statement to be issued within 14 days of occupation of the property by the tenant.
If you are a tenant or landlord who would like help regarding updating contracts or any other issues, please get in touch with Hutchinson Thomas to see how they can help.