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Letting Residential Property in Wales

Handholdingkeystohouse CovidandRentArrears–WhatdoesitmeanforCommercialLandlordsandTenants

15th June, 2022

A Guide to the New Legislation for Landlords

The law as it relates to rental properties in Wales is changing. The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 comes into force on 1 December 2022, postponed from an initial date in July 2022, much to the relief of many landlords.

The legislation contains a comprehensive overhaul of the residential rental process in Wales, and for Landlords, there are a number of key changes, some of which will require action when the new legislation comes into force.

Tenancy Agreements

All new tenancies beginning on or after 1 December 2022 will be entered into under an ‘occupation contract’, a statement of which must be given to the tenant (or ‘contract-holder’) within 14 days of them going into occupation of a property.

All existing residential tenancies will automatically convert to occupation contracts on 1 December, and landlords will have 6 months from that date to provide their tenants with a written statement of the converted occupation contract. This will replace any existing tenancy or licence agreement. Both types of written statement must be served in hard copy unless the tenant agrees to it being sent electronically.

The Welsh government has provided model written statements which can be found here and a landlord’s guide to converting existing tenancy agreements here .

Ending Tenancies

In respect of bringing tenancies to an end after 1 December, the current Section 8 and Section 21 notices will be replaced with prescribed form notices on the basis of ‘fault’ and no-fault’ respectively. Where there is no fault on the tenant’s part, the minimum notice period will increase from the current two months to six months. Where there is fault on the tenant’s part, for example rent arrears or anti-social behaviour, there will be a minimum notice period of one month, replacing the current minimum of 2 weeks.

Landlord’s current obligations in Wales, including being registered with Rent Smart Wales, protecting the tenant’s deposit in an approved scheme, and keeping properties ‘fit for human habitation’, along with the prohibition of associated retaliatory evictions, will remain.

Whilst the changes may seem onerous for landlords, in particular the obligation to replace all existing tenancy agreements, there are some changes which will be of benefit.

A new process for abandonment of properties is being introduced, which will allow landlords to give four weeks’ notice if they believe their rental property has been abandoned by its tenants. Once the notice has expired, and a landlord has done some checks to satisfy themselves that the property is genuinely abandoned, they can re-enter without the need for a possession order, which will be a big time and cost saving.

Clarity is also being introduced where there are couples or multiple tenants who initially take on the rental property, but one of the tenants later leaves or is replaced by another. The new legislation allows for tenants to be added or removed from the new occupation contracts without having to end it and begin a new one, which is the current process. Again, this will be a potential time and cost saving for landlords.

If you have any concerns about the new legislation, either in respect of drafting new written statements or evicting tenants, please get in touch.

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