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The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016: the key changes

Last month it was announced that implementation of the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 is set to take place on 15 July 2022. Lee Russell and Victoria Smith examine its likely impact.

The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 will drastically change housing law in Wales. Below, we have set out some key changes that will be introduced by the Act and what these changes will mean for landlords.

  1. The Act introduces two types of landlords, community landlords (primarily local authorities and registered social landlords) and private landlords (all other landlords);
  2. Tenants and licensees are ‘contract – holders’ and will have occupation contracts which will replace tenancy and licence agreements;
  3. There will be two types of occupation contracts: secure contracts and standard contracts. Secure contracts will be used by community landlords. Standard contracts will be the default contract for the private rented sector, but will be used by local authorities and RSLs in certain circumstances, for example where a ‘supported standard contract’ is used within supported accommodation.
  4. Where a ‘no fault’ notice is served to end a contract, the minimum notice period that must be given is 6 months;
  5. Landlords must ensure that homes are fit for human habitation;
  6. A joint contract-holder will be able to leave a contract without ending the contract entirely. New joint contract-holders can be added without having to end the current contract and start another one;
  7. The Act introduces a new succession right for carers and enables both a ‘priority’ and ‘reserve’ successor to succeed to an occupation contract, enhancing succession rights;
  8. Upon satisfying conditions, the Act enables landlords to repossess an abandoned property without needing a court order;
  9. Where a landlord provides supported accommodation, they will not have to issue an occupation contract for the first six months of occupancy. To be classified as supported accommodation, a criteria must be met. After 6 months, the person(s) will become entitled to a ‘supported standard contract’ which will operate in a similar way to a standard contract. However, specific additional terms may be included within the contract.

It has been announced that the information that landlords will need in order to comply with their obligations under the Act will be available six months in advance of implementation, which is now.

To assist, regulations have been made on: the default supplementary terms to be included in the new occupation contracts; the explanatory information to be included in occupation contracts; the model written statements of contract; and the fitness for human habitation obligation. Further information on this should be available on the Welsh Government’s Renting Homes’ webpage (www.gov.wales/rentinghomes).

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Lee Russell is a partner and Victoria Smith is a solicitor in Devonshires’ Housing Management and Property Litigation team.

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