The Renting Homes (Wales) Act amendments simplifies how you rent properties. Below highlights the key changes for Landlords. There are two types of landlords under Act:
- community landlords (primarily local authorities and registered social landlords);
- and private landlords (all other landlords).
Tenants and licensees are called ‘contract-holders’ under the Act. Contract-holders now have an ‘occupation contract’ (which replaces tenancy and licence arrangements). There are two types of occupation contract:
- Secure contract: For use by community landlords.
- Standard contract: This is the default contract for the private rented sector (PRS), but can be by local authorities and RSLs in certain circumstances (e.g. a ‘Supported standard contract’ within supported accommodation).
Phoebe Callendar, Senior Legal Advisor at DAS Law, offers guidance on the issues and questions landlords should consider when renting their property:
When will the new law apply?
The Renting Home Wales Act 2016 came into force for all tenancies and licenses in Wales on the 1st December 2022.
All tenants in Wales are known as ‘contract holders’.
What happens to existing tenancies after December?
For existing tenancies, you have until 1st June 2023 to issue a new occupation contract to your tenants. After this date, all existing tenancy agreements will require an ‘occupation contract’ to be in place.
If your tenancy agreement doesn’t expire until after 1st June, you have until that date to convert the tenancy to a new occupation contract, see additional guidance here www.rentsmart.gov.wales
What will happen if I don’t give the written terms?
Since 1st December 2022, all new tenants must have written terms within 14 days of a new occupation contract being agreed otherwise the contract holder (tenant) can withhold rent up to a maximum of 2 months.
What is FFHH?
FFHH stands for Fitness For Human Habitation – this means that a Landlord is responsible for ensuring the property is free from defect and disrepair during the lifetime of the agreement.
Is damp or mould a consideration for FFHH?
Damp or mould in a property would mean that the property wouldn’t reach the standard expected for FFHH. It would mean that you have to promptly carry out all the necessary repairs to remove the issue.
There are 29 matters that determine if a property falls under the definition of FFHH, a list of them and how to rectify the issues can be found in the government guidance Fitness of homes for human habitation: guidance for landlords [HTML] | GOV.WALES
What happens if the contract holder makes a complaint about the property?
If the contract holder makes a complaint about a repair or a defect in the property, and you fail to remedy the issues, the contract holder can withhold rent until the works have been completed. It will also prevent a landlord from serving notice for 6 months as this is seen as a retaliatory eviction.
Has the law changed in relation to smoke or carbon monoxide alarms?
Since the 1st of December all rented properties in Wales must have a working carbon monoxide alarm in every room where there is a gas / oil burning appliance.
For new occupation contracts a landlord has to ensure there is a working smoke alarm connected to the mains on every floor. If you have a tenant already in the property you have until 1st December 2023.
Has the law changed in relation to electrical safety?
Yes the law has changed and you must now have a valid Electrical Service Installation Certificate, which will need to be completed every 5 years. This applied to new occupation contracts entered into after the 1st December 2022 but existing agreements will have until 1st December 2023.
If you have an existing agreement with an Electrical Installation Report this will not be compliant with the new law and a landlord will be required to obtain a new Electrical Service Installation Certificate.
How do I evict my tenant under the new law?
The process is very similar to the old laws and there are still non fault notices similar to a section 21 notice and fault notices similar to section 8 notices.
Non Fault Notice – if you are in a fixed term standard occupation contract then a landlord can only serve notice before the end of the fixed term if there is a break clause within the contract allowing you to do so. Otherwise, notice can be served at the end of the fixed term, giving the contract holder 6 months’ notice – using Form RHW22
If you are in a periodic occupation contract then the landlord can serve a s.173 notice on Form RHW16 giving 6 months’ notice.
Fault Based Notice
- Breach of contract a landlord can serve a s.157 notice giving 1 month notice of Form RHW23
- Estate management (redevelopment of the property) a landlord can serve a s.160 notice giving 1 month notice to the contract holder on Form RHW20
- Serious Rent Arrears of at least 2 months or more a landlord can serve notice giving 14 days’ notice under Form RHW20
Please seek legal advice before serving any notice as there are conditions the landlord must meet to ensure the notice is valid.
I have already served notice to the tenant will this still be valid?
If a landlord has already served a s.21 notice prior to the 1st December this will still be valid but you must go to court within 2 months of it expiring for a possession order.
Can my tenant add a new contract holder (tenant) to an existing agreement?
A contract-holder may add another person to be a joint contract-holder under their contract, with the landlord’s consent but a landlord cannot unreasonably refuse. If a landlord is not happy with the person, the contract holder is looking to add to the occupation contract they should seek legal advice on what grounds would be reasonable under Schedule 2 of the Renting Homes Wales Act 2016.
Disclaimer: This information is for general guidance regarding rights and responsibilities and is not formal legal advice as no lawyer-client relationship has been created.
FWD Consulting: 020 7623 2368
Notes to Editors:
DAS UK Group: www.das.co.uk
The DAS UK Group comprises an insurance company (DAS Legal Expenses Insurance Company Ltd), a law firm (DAS Law), and an after the event legal expenses division.
DAS UK introduced legal expenses insurance (LEI) in 1975, protecting individuals and businesses against the unforeseen costs involved in a legal dispute. In 2021 we wrote over seven million policies.
The company offers a range of insurance and assistance add-on products suitable for landlords, homeowners, motorists, groups and business owners, while it’s after the event legal expenses insurance division offers a civil litigation, insolvency, clinical negligence and personal injury product. In 2013, DAS also acquired its own law firm – DAS Law – enabling it to leverage the firm’s expertise to provide its customers with access to legal advice and representation.
DAS UK is part of the ERGO Group, one of Europe’s largest insurance groups (the majority shareholder in ERGO is Munich Re, one of the world’s largest reinsurers).
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