From Thursday 1 December, many of the laws around renting in Wales are going to change.
This update in legislation marks a further separation between PRS laws in England and Wales. Landlords with properties in Wales need to ensure they know about all changes, updating their properties and documents accordingly.
You can read more about the updates in-depth here.
For deposit protection, all existing deposits protected with TDS will be unaffected by the legislation changes. However, there will be changes that agents, landlords and tenants need to be aware of.
Occupation Contracts to Replace Existing Tenancies and Licences
All existing tenancies and licences will on 1 December 2022automatically convert to occupation contracts as standard, with the tenant becoming known as the ‘contract holder’.
For example, a fixed-term assured shorthold tenancy that commenced before 1 December will become a fixed-term standard occupation contract. For all new occupation contracts landlords and/or agents will need to provide the contract holder with a written statement of occupation contract confirmation within 14 days of the occupation date, or by 31 May 2023 for any agreements that were in place before 1 December 2022, and that converted to an occupation contract on that date. Learn more here.
Change of Sharers
In a tenancy with multiple occupiers, there are changes within the new system; contract-holders can be added or removed from a joint contract, without the need to end the contract for all; the consent of the landlord is required.
Ending an Occupation Contract
With the new legislation, landlords and agents are unable to serve a ’no-fault’ notice to end the contract, unless the contract has become periodic, and the notice must be for at least 6 months. Details of the new notices with new rules, can be found here.
An Inventory is now compulsory
There is a supplementary provision within the legislation that will require an inventory to be provided in all circumstances. The provision advises “the inventory must set out the dwelling’s contents”. If the property is unfurnished, the inventory should reflect his and is likely to refer only to fixtures. Inventories are there to protect the interests of both parties and are essential evidence in any deposit disputes.
Convert existing tenancies
Occupation contracts can start verbally, but you must issue a written statement of the contract to all contract-holders (this replaces the current tenancy or licence agreement).
Be aware of new notice periods for possession
No-fault notice (periodic standard contracts only) – six months minimum for new occupation contracts and can’t be served in first six months of occupation. Breaches: No notice period for anti-social behaviour (you can apply to the court straight after giving the notice); 14 days for serious rent arrears (arrears of 8 weeks / 2 months); one month’s notice for most other breaches.
Ensure properties are Fit for Human Habitation
Including electrical safety testing and ensuring working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are provided, on each storey of the property. A landlord will not be able to issue a ‘Landlord’s Notice’ or break clause if they are in breach of the fitness requirements
Repossess an abandoned property
without needing a court order, after serving a four-week warning notice
Contract-holders can be added or removed
without having to end the current contract and start another one. Consent of the landlord is however required.
Enhanced succession rights mean the contract holder is entitled to pass on their home
twice to other people that live with them (including a spouse, adult, children or a carer) if they die.
New, simpler contracts will be issued
Tenants and licensees are called “contract holders” under the new legislation and will be issued with an ‘occupation contract’ to replace any existing tenancy or licence agreement.
Your home must be fit to live in
The new legislation helps to ensure that landlords maintain dwellings to prevent them from becoming unfit for human habitation. A contract-holder may not be liable to pay rent for any period which the property is deemed to be unfit.
More notice of a rent increase
The notice period for a rent variation will double from one month to two months’ notice, which may be issued annually.
Stronger rights to stay in your home
New contracts issued after 1 December will be subject to a minimum of six months’ notice if you’re not at fault and the landlord wishes to repossess the property (often called a ‘no-fault eviction’). Also, your landlord cannot give you this six-month notice until you’ve lived in the property for six months. This means you can expect to live in your property for at least 12 months.
‘Revenge’ evictions prevented
Your landlord cannot ask you to leave just because you’ve complained that your home is in a poor state of repair (for example, your boiler is broken). This is sometimes referred to as a ‘retaliatory eviction’
Contract-holders can be added or removed
from the contract more easily. This means, if another joint contract-holder leaves the contract, you won’t be at risk of homelessness.
Tenants Notice to end the contract
A minimum of 4 weeks’ notice, however a contract-holder cannot end a fixed term standard contract, unless a contract-holder’s break clause has been included.
Greater rights to pass your home if you die
Succession rights include your partner or adult children, if they live with you.
Advice for tenants, landlords and agents
With no transition period, TDS recommends that landlords, agents, property managers and tenants familiarise themselves with the new terms and detail of the new legislation. The Welsh Government has published guidance which can be found here.