The Renting Homes (Amendment) (Wales) Bill gained Royal Assent on 07 April 2021 (‘the Amendment Act’). The Amendment Act amends certain provisions of the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 (‘the 2016 Act’). The 2016 Act (when it comes into force) will significantly reform housing law and practice in Wales. No date has been set for when the 2016 Act will come into force, but it is expected to come into force early 2022.
The Amendment Act gives residential tenants in Wales greater security. Residential tenancies in Wales will change to give tenants:
- A minimum 12-month contract;
- Minimum notice periods to evict tenants will be extended from two to six months in the case of “no fault evictions” (section 21); and
- Landlords will only be able to serve an eviction notice six months after tenants have moved in (as opposed to four months).
A tenant will therefore be able to move in and spend a year in a property before the landlord can take possession.
When the 2016 Act comes into force, it will simplify and standardise tenancy agreements to make them easier to understand and reduce legal costs. Some of the key provisions of the 2016 Act are as follows:
- Create a new model written statement, a “standard occupation contract”, modelled on the present assured shorthold tenancy (AST);
- Many licences will be converted into occupation contracts;
- The occupation contracts will include certain terms that cannot be varied unless the variation improves the tenant’s or licensee’s position; and
- It will introduce a new tenancy deposit scheme which will apply to all occupation contracts.
The Welsh Government has the power to prescribe model written statements and has now launched a consultation seeking views on:
- The draft Renting Homes (Model Written Statements) (Wales) Regulations; and
- The draft Renting Homes (Explanatory Information for Written Statements) (Wales) Regulations
Any interested parties can respond to the consultation and views are being sought on the design, structure, and order of the draft model statements and explanatory information. The terms of the statements are pre-determined (by the 2016 Act). You can read the consultation document and respond online here. The consultation closes on 16 June 2021.
The aim of the 2016 Act is to streamline the housing process in Wales; however, opinion is divided with some stating that these changes will significantly inhibit a landlord’s ability to recover possession even from a problem tenant. This is likely to have a negative consequence for the wider sector with landlords leaving the market when demand for lettings is high.