The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016
The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 came into effect on 1 December 2022, affecting both private and social landlords, it is the biggest change to housing law in Wales for decades.
Developed to protect the interests of both landlords and tenants, this act will improve how homes in Wales are rented, managed and lived in. These changes have been made to make things easier by simplifying existing complicated pieces of legislation and replacing them with one clear legal framework.
What has changed?
Tenancy Agreements are now known as ‘Occupation Contracts’
Under The Act, most people will now rent their home under a written Occupation Contract (replacing existing tenancy and licence agreements) and tenants will now be referred to as ‘contract-holders’. There are two main types of occupation contracts that can now be issued:
- A standard contract – the primary contract for the private rented sector.
- A secure contract to replace secure tenancies issued by local authorities and assured tenancies issued by Registered Social Landlords (RSLs).
Increased Succession Rights
This will provide the right to pass on your home when you pass away. For example, someone who lives with the contract-holder at the dwelling, but is not named on the contract, may have a right to carry on with the contract if the contract holder dies.
A fair and consistent approach for everyone when dealing with anti-social behaviour.
Contract-Holders (previously referred to as tenants) can be added or removed without the need to end the contract.
Unlike previously, The Act allows people renting together on joint contracts to be added or removed from occupation contracts more easily without the need to terminate contracts for all contract-holders.
The Act has been designed to improve contract-holders’ security by increasing the ‘no fault’ notice period from two months to a minimum of six months’ notice. This will provide all contract holders a minimum 12 months of security at the start of their tenancy and a realistic timeframe to secure a new home.
Increased Protection from Retaliatory Eviction
Under the Act, landlords cannot evict contract holders who ask for repairs or complain about dangerous housing conditions (e.g., a broken boiler). Therefore, landlords must keep their properties in good repair and safe for occupation. The courts can refuse a landlord possession claim if a property has outstanding repair work or is deemed unfit. If rejected, a landlord cannot serve another possession notice for at least six months.
Landlords will be able to repossess abandoned properties without a court order.
The Act has introduced an easier process for landlords to take back possession of their rental properties when they believe it has been abandoned by the contract holder. Landlords must be certain the contract holder has abandoned the property and therefore investigations must still be carried out. However, if it has been abandoned, a four-week warning notice can be served instead of an obtained court order.
Rental properties must be in good repair and ‘Fit For Human Habitation’ (FFHH).
Under Section 91 of the Act, requirements have been placed upon landlords to ensure that at the commencement and during the length of an occupation contract, the property is FFHH. There are 29 matters and circumstances that will be looked upon when determining if a dwelling is FFHH. These now include requirements for
- A valid electrical safety certificate every 5 years (or sooner where a previous electrical inspection has made such a recommendation)
- Carbon monoxide alarms in every room with a gas, oil or solid fuel burning appliance (including gas boilers)
- A mains-wired interlinked smoke alarm on every floor of the dwelling.
Note: For tenancies that were converted to a standard occupation contract on the 1 December 2022 landlords have until 1 December 2023 to arrange electrical safety tests and install smoke alarms (as long as the previous electrical installation is safe, and the property is not considered to be a high fire risk). If the converted contract ends before this date, the exemption no longer applies, and the works will need to be arranged accordingly.
For all contracts from 1 December 2022, there must be a carbon monoxide alarm present in each relevant room; there is no exception to this requirement even if you have a converted contract.
The Fitness for Human Habitation regulations helps landlords maintain dwellings to prevent them from becoming unsafe. A contract holder must inform their landlord first if they are concerned that a property does not meet the requirements. Once in agreement, the landlord should act to resolve any issues.
If the landlord disagrees, the court ultimately decides whether a property is unfit based on the regulations and not Shared Regulatory Services. Therefore, contract holders will need to seek independent legal advice. The court can order the landlord to act by completing repair work and potentially compensate the contract holder. To find out how and when to complain to Shared Regulatory Services, please click here.
What does the new law mean for me (Tenants)?
As a tenant, the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 has been designed to offer greater security and certainty by improving your rights.
From 1 December 2022, most tenants and licensees will automatically change over to the relevant contract. Existing tenants will receive their new occupation contracts within six months before 1 June 2023. For all contracts a landlord must give the contract-holder (previously known as the tenant) a copy of the occupation contract within 14 days of the 'occupation date' (the day on which the contract-holder was entitled to move in).
The only thing you will need to do is read your contract and familiarise yourself with your rights and responsibilities.
What does the new law mean for me (Landlords)?
As a landlord, the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 has been designed to help protect the interests of landlords and improve their ability to regain possession of their rental property. Any existing tenancy agreement will be automatically converted to a new contract, and a copy of the occupation contract must be provided to the contract holder by 1 June 2023.
Any new occupation contract holders from the 1 December 2022 will need to sign the occupation contract and must be issued with a copy within 14 days of the 'occupation date' (the day on which the contract-holder was entitled to move in).
All occupation contracts are now written, to protect the interests of all parties and to help prevent disputes over what was agreed upon. Model contracts can be downloaded from the Welsh Government website and can be amended to suit any rental.
Rent Smart Wales (RSW) have developed training for landlords and agents on the Renting Homes Act (2016) Wales and must be completed to maintain RSW compliance (where the licence was issued after July 2020). This course can help improve your understanding of these changes and avoid costly mistakes. Visit the Rent Smart Wales website for more information.
Frequently Asked Questions
Read the answers to some FAQs