The Renting Homes Act: the biggest change to housing law in Wales for decades
The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016, which represents the biggest change to housing law in Wales for decades, will be implemented on 15th July 2022. It has taken much longer for than expected for the Welsh Government to implement the 2016 Act, as it has required the development of many statutory instruments*, some of which have required separate consultation.
*Statutory Instruments (SIs) are a form of legislation which allow the provisions of an Act of Parliament to be subsequently brought into force or altered without Parliament having to pass a new Act.
Summary of main changes for tenants:
The Act introduces lots of changes to tenancy laws in Wales and it is intended that the changes will make it simpler and easier to rent a home.
Welsh Government and landlords will be producing lots of useful information about the changes over the next few months, but in the meantime, here are some of the main changes.
Under the new law, tenants and licensees will become 'contract-holders'. Tenancy agreements will be replaced with 'occupation contracts'.
There are two types of occupation contract:
secure contract: This replaces secure tenancies issued by local authorities (councils) and assured tenancies issued by Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) (commonly known as Housing Associations); and
standard contract: This is the default contract for the private rented sector (PRS), but can be used by local authorities and RSL’s in certain circumstances (e.g. a ‘supported standard contract’ for supported accommodation).
Your landlord will issue you with an 'occupation contract', which will replace your tenancy or licence agreement.
Occupation contracts with your landlord will have to be set out in a ‘written statement’. The purpose of the written statement is to confirm the terms of the contract. This written statement must contain all required contractual terms. These are:
Key matters: For example, the names of the parties and address of the property. These must be inserted in every contract.
Fundamental Terms: Cover the most important aspects of the contract, including the possession procedures and the landlord’s obligations regarding repair.
Supplementary Terms: Deal with the more practical, day to day matters applying to the occupation contract, for example, the requirement to notify the landlord if the property is going to be unoccupied for four weeks or more.
Additional Terms: Addresses any other specifically agreed matters, for example a term which relates to the keeping of pets.
It must also include information that explains the meaning and importance of the contract.
Contracts can be issued in hardcopy or, if the contract-holder agrees, electronically. Signing the contract is good practice, as it confirms the tenant are content with it.
Further information is available on the Welsh Government’s Renting Homes’ webpages (www.gov.wales/rentinghomes) or contact your landlord for more information.