Renting Homes in Wales.

The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 came into force on 1 December 2022. It makes significant changes to the law relating to residential property lettings in Wales. From now on, the legal basis of most agreements between landlords and people who rent their home will be an "occupation contract" and tenants and licensees will now be called "contract holders”.

Contract holders must be given a written statement containing all of the terms of the occupation contract within 14 days of moving in. 

Most pre-existing rental agreements will automatically convert into occupation contracts, and in that case, landlords have until 31 May 2023 to send out the written statement.

The Welsh government has produced model written statements for different circumstances and they can be used as the basis for occupation contracts. The new law says that there are some fundamental terms which cannot be changed from the model wording at all, and others which can only be altered if the change benefits the contract holder.

Here are a few Key Things to Note about the New Law:

  • Landlords must make sure that properties are fit for human habitation, having regard to a list of 29 separate factors including damp and mould, carbon monoxide, a lack of adequate lighting, exposure to pests, poor sanitation and drainage, inadequate water supply, etc. 
  • Properties must include hardwired smoke alarms on each floor and a carbon monoxide alarm in each room containing a gas appliance, oil-fired combustion appliance, or solid fuel burning combustion appliance.
  •  Landlords must give six months’ notice of a "no fault" eviction and one month's notice of an eviction due to a breach of contract. That notice period can be shorter where there is antisocial behaviour, or serious rent arrears.
  • Two months’ notice has to be given of any rent increase.
  • It is easier to add or remove contract holders to the contract: there is no need to end the existing contract and start a new one. Managing joint occupation contracts is therefore simpler.
  •  Where the contract holder dies the contract can be passed on to certain other people living in the property such as the contract holder’s spouse or partner, other family member aged 18 or over, or certain types of carers.
  • The new law also gives landlords the right to recover possession of the property without issuing court proceedings by following a prescribed procedure if the property has been abandoned.

There are pitfalls for the unwary and it is important for landlords to get advice about the terms of their written statements, and to get advice before serving any notices to terminate an occupation contract or repossess an apparently abandoned property.

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