Housing law is changing in Wales! The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 is at long last due to come into force on 15 July 2022. Or in five months from the date of writing this.
So we at Landlord Law have a lot of work to do!
The Housing (Wales) Act 2014
It all started with the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 which came into force in 2016. Under this, all Welsh landlords (or rather landlords of Welsh property) need to register with Rent Smart Wales. And all Welsh letting agents and landlords wanting to self manage their Welsh properties have to be licensed. Which (i.e. licensing) means a higher fee and attending a training course.
This was the first stage of the change of the housing regime in Wales.
The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016
The 2014 act is all about registering and regulating Welsh landlords and agents. The 2016 act actually changes the laws which apply to rented property in Wales. It is based partly on the ill-fated Law Commission Renting Homes project – which came out in May 2006 – in the early months of this blog. You can find it on the Law Commission website here.
Sadly the report was rejected in England. However many years later it was taken up by Wales – resulting in the 2016 act.
The 2016 act has been a long time in the preparation. Since it was passed we have had Brexit, the pandemic and now the Ukraine war. 2016 seems a very long time ago. Still, here it is and all Welsh landlords and their advisors will need to come to grips with it.
My online membership site, Landlord Law, has many Welsh members so we will have to ensure that we have sufficient information, forms and guidance for our Welsh members well in advance of the deadline.
How the 2016 Renting Homes (Wales) Act will affect landlords in Wales
The 2016 act will dramatically change renting law in Wales (I feel sorry for agents in the Welsh border counties who will have to learn both systems!).
The assured and assured shorthold tenancies and indeed the whole regime set up by the Housing Act 1988 will no longer apply in Wales. Instead, there will be two types of contract:
- Secure contracts, and
- Standard contracts
The secure contracts will be used by Welsh social landlords and will not be discussed here (or not much). We will be focusing on the standard contracts which are the ones to be used by Welsh private landlords.
The terminology will change – landlords will remain landlords but Welsh tenants and licensees will be known collectively as ‘contract holders’. So far as is possible the legislation tries to extinguish the difference between tenancies and licenses. I will be looking at this in more detail in a future post.
However, the main thing which will affect Welsh landlords with effect from 15 July is that all their tenancies will convert to the new Welsh contracts, and they will be required to provide their tenants (or contract holders as we should now refer to them) with new forms or ‘occupation contracts’.
The provision of occupation contracts is going to be mandatory in Wales, with financial penalties for non-compliance. Note also that many of the clauses to go into the contracts will be mandatory (and your tenants may be able to claim compensation if they are missing).
So all landlords of Welsh property will need to have new agreements (or contracts) which are compliant with the new law.
The Landlord Law service and Wales
We at Landlord Law are in the process of developing new content for the site which will hopefully help our Welsh members grapple with the new system. Starting, in the hopefully near future, with some occupation contracts. The Welsh government’s ‘model contracts’ will not be suitable for most landlords as a lot of protective clauses (including a pets prohibition clause!) are missing.
I will be emailing our Welsh members with details of the updates, along with tips and guidance notes, If you own or manage rented property in Wales and would like to receive them too, click the button below. It is totally free.
I, and my assistant Mark, will also be posting thoughts and comments on the new system here – so watch this space!