For landlords in Wales, the Renting Homes Act will probably come as no surprise. It was originally passed in 2016 but was delayed for many reasons, but it finally came into force at the beginning of December for new tenancies, with it being rolled out to existing tenancies from June 2023.
So what are some of the main changes that you need to be aware of? And what will you need to do differently in 2023? We’ve summarised the key details about the new Renting Homes Act and what it means for Welsh property landlords.
What is the Renting Homes Act?
It’s a new legislation that’s considered to be a huge shake-up in Wales’ housing law. The Welsh government has suggested that it will simplify and improve the process for both landlords and tenants.
The new law applies to both social and private landlords, and will require landlords to make necessary changes to their contracts, property maintenance and communication. In addition, tenants will be granted better succession rights.
When does it come into force?
For new tenancies, the new legislation is already in place – it became law on the 1st December. For existing tenancies, the legislation begins on 1st June 2023.
What sort of changes will I need to make?
As we mentioned above, there are three main changes that will affect Welsh property landlords in terms of: the type of contract that is required, how the rental property is maintained, and how landlords correspond with tenants. We’ve outlined a brief overview of each change below.
You’ll be required to complete an occupation contract
This replaces the standard tenancy agreements. There are two types of occupation contract: ‘secure’ and ‘standard’. The type you need will depend on whether you’re a private or community landlord. The Welsh government has also outlined four term types that can be featured within this new type of contract. These are:
- ‘Key matters’ (tenant and landlord contact information)
- ‘Fundamental terms’ (covering vital aspects such as repair and possession procedures)
- ‘Supplementary terms’ (more day-to-day matters)
- ‘Additional terms’ (any other agreed matters)
The contract can be given to tenants either as a hardcopy or electronically, but it must be done so within 14 days for new tenancies. Landlords with existing tenants will have 6 months to issue the new contract.
The way in which you can end the contract has changed
This will probably be the most unwelcome news of all. Many landlords expressed concern over the extension of notice periods during the consultation in September, but unfortunately it’s gone ahead as planned.
In situations where the tenant has breached the contract, the landlord will need to give a minimum of one month’s notice period (in certain serious situations it is possible for this notice period to be reduced).
However, in the case of a ‘no fault’ notice, landlords will now be required to give a minimum of 6 months’ notice. It’s also worth noting that you’ll only be able to give this notice if you’re compliant with certain rules and regulations, such as Rent Smart Wales and deposit protection.
The rental property must be ‘fit for human habitation’ (FFHH)
New guidance under this Act states that a rental property must be ‘fit for human habitation’. The obligations for this are fairly substantial, but it includes things like ensuring the appropriate electrical safety testing is carried out correctly, making sure the water, gas and electricity are in working order, and fitting working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. For the full guidance on what you must do to ensure your property is FFHH, please visit the Government guidance page.
There’s so much new information to take in regarding the new Renting Homes Act, and this blog post is designed to give you a brief overview of the key changes you’re likely to face. We therefore recommend that you take the time to fully familiarise yourself with the Government guidance in order to ensure that you’ll be compliant with the new regulations.
We also offer landlord accounting and advice so feel free to get in-touch.
You can find further information, example contract templates and other useful tips via the following Government web pages: