Minister confirms six month delay to introduction of new Renting Homes Act
The Welsh Government has announced the Renting Homes (Wales) Act, which was due to come into force on 15 July, will now be pushed back until the end of the year.
Described as the biggest change to housing law in Wales for decades, the act abolishes many of the old forms of tenancy replacing these with statutorily regulated occupation contracts.
There are two types of landlord under the Act, community landlords (primarily local authorities and registered social landlords); and private landlords (all other landlords).
Tenants and licensees are called ‘contract-holders’ under the Act. and they will have an “occupation contract” (which replaces tenancy and licence arrangements).
The Act introduces two types of occupation contract, the Secure Contract for community landlords and the Standard Contract which is the default contract for the private rented sector but can be by local authorities and Registered Social Landlords in certain circumstances.
Announcing the move in a written statement, Climate Change minister Julie James said the act was being delayed to ensure landlords have adequate time to make the necessary preparations to comply with the requirements of the Act.
“I have over recent months received representations from landlords, and particularly social landlords, who have requested that implementation of the Act be delayed,” she wrote.
“As such, and in the light of the unprecedented pressures they face, including Covid recovery and supporting those who are fleeing the war in Ukraine, I have decided to postpone implementation of the Act until 1st December 2022. This will allow more time for landlords to complete the necessary preparations ahead of implementation. “
“I appreciate that this delay, relatively short though it is, will be a source of frustration to some of our partners, especially those who are anxious to see the enhanced protections for tenants the Act will deliver.
“I share those frustrations, but I recognise that preparing new occupation contracts and ensuring that properties meet the fitness standards set out in the legislation are major undertakings, particularly for those landlords responsible for a large number of properties and tenants.
“I also accept that landlords from both private and public sectors, as well as letting agents and other stakeholders, would benefit from additional time to familiarise themselves with the various pieces of subordinate legislation – the final tranche of which are due to be made in July – before commencement.
“I fully acknowledge the disruption that moving from the old familiar system to a brand new legislative framework is causing for landlords across Wales, particularly in a period where we are still having to deal with the aftershocks of the pandemic and where we are doing all we can to welcome to Wales people fleeing the conflict in Ukraine.
“I am, though, absolutely certain that that this reform will bring huge long-term benefits to landlords and to those renting their homes. “
Responding to the statement confirming a delay to the implementation of the act, Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson for housing and planning, Mabon ap Gwynfor MS said: “A scenario has been created where there is a gap in protection from ‘no fault’ evictions between the emergency COVID regulations and the protection offered from the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016.
“Now that the Act has been delayed to the end of 2022, this offers even more time for unscrupulous private landlords to evict tenants before they are tied in to the new contacts under the Act.
“Tenants need protection now more than ever, especially with rent increases and the cost-of living-crisis. For too many tenants, homelessness is too real a threat, and now we have a situation where eviction can happen very quickly through no fault of their own.
“The supply of social housing is nowhere near meeting the demand, with a waiting list of nearly 70,000, council housing departments are on their knees following a two year pandemic and dealing with an ever growing homeless population. Tenants need these protections now more than ever, and the Labour Welsh Government has let them down.”
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