Minister gives notice of ‘biggest change to Welsh housing law for decades’
A Welsh Government minister has announced the implementation of a new housing act meaning tenants and landlords will see significant changes from July this year.
Julie James, Climate Change Minister, has announced her intention to implement the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 on Friday, 15 July 2022.
The announcement has been made today in line with the Welsh government promise to give landlords six months’ notice of the new rules, which are now available on its website
The act will mean that tenants will have secure tenancies for a minimum of 12 months and the period of notice of intention to take possession of a property will be extended from two months to six months.
This makes permanent the temporary extension that came into place under Covid pandemic regulations and will apply to situations where there is ‘no fault’ by the tenant, such as rent arrears and anti-social behaviour.
As well as the one-year secure tenancy and extended notice period, tenants will be better protected against retaliatory evictions when a landlord seeks to evict rather than tackle repairs or respond to complaints about poor conditions.
The legislation will also make it easier to manage joint tenancies so that tenants can be added or removed from ‘occupation contracts’ without the need to end one contract and start another.
This will help those experiencing domestic abuse or anti-social behaviour by enabling the perpetrator to be targeted for eviction.
Climate Change Minister Julie James said: “This Act represents the biggest change to housing law in Wales for decades.
“The Act will make it simpler and easier to rent a home in Wales, replacing various, complex pieces of existing legislation and case law with one clear legal framework.
“When in place, contract-holders in Wales will have greater security of tenure than in any other part of the UK.
“The way we rent in Wales will become simpler and more transparent this year.”
The Welsh Government has also launched a national awareness campaign that will ensure both landlords and tenants are aware of the changes that will take effect from July 2022.
Some of the main changes brought in by the Act will include:
- All landlords being required to provide a written copy of the occupation contract to the tenant (called the ‘contract-holder’ in the legislation). This sets out the rights and responsibilities of both parties.
- ‘No-fault’ notice periods increasing from two months to six months. It will no longer be possible to issue a notice in the first six months, meaning all contract-holders will have a minimum 12 months of security at the start of their tenancy.
- An strengthened duty on landlords, to ensure the property they rent is fit for human habitation including the installation of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, and regular electrical safety testing.
- Addressing the practice of ‘retaliatory eviction’ (whereby a landlord serves notice on a tenant because they ask for repairs or complain about poor conditions).
- The introduction of a consistent approach across sectors to eviction where antisocial behaviour and domestic violence, occurs.
Speaking to the residential agents’ site, The Negotiator, Daryl McIntosh Policy Manager at Propertymark, which is the professional body for the property sector, warned that the changes could prove challenging and problematic.
He said: “Communication and education will be key to the success of the new tenancy regime that the Renting Homes (Wales) Act brings.
“The changes could be problematic if agents are not well versed, and we would suggest that agents prepare well in advance of July which is something we will be supporting our members through.
“It remains to be seen how the changes to notice periods will affect the choices of both landlords and tenants as their access to flexibility is restricted.”