The Act replaces certain provisions in the UK-wide legislation, the Housing Act 1985 and the Housing Act 1988, and makes amendments to the Renting Homes (Fees etc.) (Wales) Act 2019.
The changes include higher standards for properties in the Private Rented Sector such as obligations to keep structures and interiors in a state of good repair and fit for human habitation as well as more rights for tenants regarding break clauses, joint contracts and ‘no fault’ notices.
The key provisions of the Act are:
- Types of landlords
- Types of tenancies
- Joint contract-holders
- Succession rights
- Notice periods and evictions
- Fitness for human habitation
Amendments to the Act
There have been some amendments since the initial implementation of the Act in 2016 which was legislated in the Renting Homes (Amendment) (Wales) Act 2021.
These changes included changing the minimum notice period from two months to six months for a standard “no-fault” eviction and payments of a service charge or replacement written statement of an occupation contract are permitted payments in certain circumstances.
The Act defines two different types of landlords, for the purpose of simplifying renting legislation.
- Community Landlords: includes registered social landlords, co-operative housing associations and local authority landlords.
- Private Landlords: includes all other landlords who privately rent out residential properties.
Tenants will become Contract Holders with tenancy agreements known as Occupation Contracts:
- Secure or Assured Tenancies will become Secure Contracts (used by community landlords).
- Assured Shorthold Tenancies and other fixed-term contracts or licences will become Standard Contracts (used by the private landlords).
Landlords must provide a written statement to the Contract Holder setting out the terms of the Occupation Contract within 14 days of the occupation date. Existing tenancy agreements will convert on 1 December 2022, and landlords will have up to six months (by 1 June 2023) to issue the converted contract.
The Act sets out new provisions for joint Contract Holders, giving more flexibility for tenants and eliminating the need to create new contracts when tenants change. A tenant may add another person to be a joint contract-holder, with permission of the landlord, under the same Occupation Agreement. They become jointly liable to the obligations set out in the contract from the day they become a joint Contract Holder.
Furthermore, a joint Contract Holder is able to leave the tenancy without ending the Occupation Contract. The joint Contract Holder will no longer have any rights or obligations to the tenancy from the date they cease to be party to the contract, but they will still be liable for anything accrued while they are party to the contract.
In certain circumstances if the sole Contract Holder under the Occupation Contract dies the contract may be transferred to a suitable successor. A successor can include a spouse or civil partner, or other family member, of the Contract Holder or have been living with the Contract Holder as their principal home before the Contract Holder’s death.
The Act also provides that, in some instances, a carer may become a successor to the contract if they were living with the Contract Holder before their death.
For new Standard Contracts after the 1 December 2022, landlords must give six months’ notice to ask a tenant to leave the property, and notice can only be given six months after the start of the contract. Exceptions to this are where the tenant has breached one of the fundamental terms of the contract such as serious rent arrears or anti-social behaviour.
For existing tenancies, landlords will have to adhere to the new six month notice periods from June 2023.
It is a provision of the Act that Contract Holders or anyone living in or visiting the property must not engage or threaten to engage in anti-social behaviour in the property or the locality. This is a fundamental provision which is incorporated as a term in all Occupation Contracts.
Landlords will no longer be able to evict a contract holder simply because they have complained about the condition of the property (retaliatory eviction). Where the property is deemed by the court to be unfit for human habitation, landlords will be prevented from serving a valid no-fault eviction notice for a period of six months from the date of the judgement.
The Act sets out a requirement for properties in Wales to be ‘fit for human habitation’ from the date of occupation and for the duration of the contract. This is based on the existing 29 hazards under Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) and includes keeping the exterior such as drains and gutters in repair as well as all services like gas, electricity, and water.
The property must also have:
- A battery powered Carbon Monoxide alarm in every room that has a solid fuel burning appliance.
- Hard wired fire and smoke alarms installed at the property.
- An Electronic Installation Condition Report (EICR) of the fixed wiring at the property at least every five years.
These rules apply from 1 December 2022, but requirements for hard-wired smoke detectors and electrical safety testing won’t apply until 1 December 2023.
23 Nov 2022
Simon White and Tim Thomas
Coming into effect on 1 December 2022, the Act is one of the biggest shake-ups of Welsh housing law. It will introduce significant changes for letting agents, landlords and tenants to the way homes are rented, managed, and lived in.
Simon White who oversees implementing the Act, went through the details to help agents understand the changes and their new responsibilities.
Resources for members
The Renting Homes (Wales) Act replaces existing legislation from the Housing Act 2004 with a new tenancy structure for Wales. The primary purpose is to make the legal framework easier to understand and will also mark a key separation in legislation between Wales and England.
The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 brings together several complex pieces of legislation into a single legal framework. We worked closely with the Welsh Government to help agents prepare and have produced the new Model Occupation Contracts, which Rent Smart Wales has also reviewed.
Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 received Royal Assent on 18 January 2016 which provides additional obligations for landlords and letting agents around the condition of their properties. The Act comes into force from 1 December 2022.
From 1 December 2022, existing tenancy agreements are automatically converted to either a fixed term or periodic standard occupation contract. Propertymark has liaised with the Welsh Government in response to concerns and questions from members.
Rent Smart Wales and some of its approved providers now offer Renting Homes Act training. This is free on the Rent Smart Wales website, or for a fee for classroom or virtual training.