The latest on Renting Homes (Wales) Act - no fault evictions
As many of you know, we have been awaiting the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 to be implemented since, well, 2016. There were delays due to a number of things, one being the Ministry of Justice needing to feel confident that the court systems were robust enough to accept these changes and the other being potential changes to Section 21 (the right to serve notice on a tenant without reason). When tenants are issued a Section 21 notice, they have 2 months to find new and suitable accommodation.
When Mark Drakeford AM become First Minister here in Wales, he proposed that we abolish Section 21 just as they have in Scotland. In Scotland, they did this through reforming Section 8 (legitimate reason to seek possession such as ASB, significant rent arrears). They also reformed their court systems so that they had specific housing court with experienced staff who are familiar with housing legislation. By carrying out the reform of the court system at the same time as abolishing S.21 they were able to keep both tenants and landlords happy.
So, when Julie James AM became Minister of Housing and Local Government, she called for evidence on extending the minimum notice period for no fault evictions. TPAS Cymru sent a survey out to tenants to ask their thoughts and feelings around extending the two months to six months. Tenants were, as expected, in favour of this. Tenants felt that having 6 months would alleviate the stress linked to moving home which would be elevated if on a low income, with health conditions, children, caring responsibilities and living in an adapted property. Tenants responses shaped our consultation response which can be seen here.
Yesterday (11th Feb 2020), Julie James AM made a statement in plenary which introduced a Renting Homes (Amendment) (Wales) Bill. If given Royal Assent this will basically change elements of the current Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016, before it is implemented. The Bill proposes changes that Julie feels will improve the relationship between tenants and landlords. These changes include the extension of a two-month notice period to a six-month notice period. It also restricts the issuing of a notice until the tenant has been in their tenancy for six months. This gives tenants the security of tenure for 12 months. The Bill will also restrict the issuing of S.21 notice until at least six months after issuing one before to ensure landlords weren’t issuing notices as a ‘just in case’. There are a few more changes that you can read here, but I think this is the basics.
(Key points to remember: Section 21 is called Section 173 in Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016. Also, Tenants are called Contract Holders in Renting Homes Act (Wales) Act 2016. Just in case you weren’t already confused, I thought I'd help you out)
The implementation of Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 will take place within this assembly term. So by May 2021. The next thing to look out for are the model contracts which Welsh Government will share with the sector six months prior to implementation.
Because of the fact there is no reform to the courts, there is significant opposition around these changes in Wales, so watch this space.
If you have any questions, please email me at: [email protected]