Some of you have heard of this act, many have not. However, to cut a long story short, the Welsh Government are updating tenancies and the rules of renting in Wales . Some of the rules are already in place and some are on the horizon.
The latest update
Welsh housing minister has announced that the new rules will come into force 15th July 2022.
These updates are possibly the most significant changes to renting in Wales and will change the landscape for tenants and landlords for good. So what are these changes I hear you shout?
Central to the Act are the new ‘occupation contracts‘, which will replace the current confusing array of tenancy and licence agreements. There will be two types of occupation contract:
- Secure Contract – for community landlords
- Standard Contract – for private landlords
The new approach to joint contracts will enable contract-holders to be added or removed from occupation contracts without the need to end the contract for all, as is currently the case.
Succession rights are broadly enhanced, enabling both a ‘priority’ and ‘reserve’ successor to succeed to the occupation contract. This will potentially enable two successions to the contract to take place, for example a spouse followed by a child.
Fitness for Human Habitation
Landlords must ensure any dwelling subject to an occupation contract is fit for human habitation (FFHH). This will include, for instance, that functioning smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and electrical and gas safety certificates be in place for each dwelling they let; there is no legal requirement to do so at the moment. In addition, rent will not be payable for any period during which the dwelling is not fit for human habitation.
The Act protects a contract-holder from the practice of retaliatory eviction (where a landlord responds to request for repair by issuing an eviction notice). A landlord will no longer be automatically entitled to possession where the Court is satisfied the possession notice was issued in response to a contract-holder’s request in respect of disrepair or FFHH.
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 and carrying out investigations to satisfy themselves the property is abandoned.
“Blimey” I hear you all saying. But there’s more…
The Bill will increase security of occupation under standard occupation contracts by;
- extend the minimum notice period for a notice given under section 173 (which is equivalent to section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, and applies in relation to periodic standard contracts) from two months to six months;
- restrict the issuing of such a notice until six months after the occupation date of the contract (the 2016 Act currently sets this at four months);
- remove a landlord’s ability to serve a section 173 notice until six months after the expiry of any previous section 173 notice which the landlord has served, to avoid the practice whereby some landlords issue a section 173 notice ‘just in case’ they wish to use it;
- remove a landlord’s ability to issue a notice during the term of a fixed term standard contract to end the contract at the expiry of the fixed term (meaning that a landlord who wishes to remove a contract-holder who remains in occupation at the end of the fixed term will be required to serve a section 173 notice to bring the periodic standard contract which will automatically arise at the end of the fixed term to an end). This would be subject to the extended six month notice period and guarantee a minimum twelve months’ security at the beginning of the periodic standard contract,
- prevent the inclusion of landlords’ break clauses in fixed term standard contracts ofless than 24 months, and prevent the activation of any break clause until at least month 18 of a fixed term contract, as well as setting the notice period under a landlord’s break clause at six months;
These are the main changes that will affect most private landlords in Wales, so I suggest you read and digest.
If you have any questions or would like any help with your lettings properties please don’t panic, just get in touch.
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Daniel Hopkins the Cardiff Property Expert.
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Working with property professionals for over 20 years providing advice and services to all property investors.