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New housing law in Wales offers tenants improved security and standards

‘Contract-holders will have greater security of tenure than in any other part of the UK’
02 February 2022 , By Katie Coyne

July 2022 will see radical new housing measures making it easier to rent a home in Wales, while strengthened duty on landlords will ensure properties meet safety requirements

A shake-up in Welsh housing law coming into force this summer should make it simpler and fairer to rent, and improve housing standards.

Wales’ Climate Change Minister, Julie James said new measures being brought in on 15th July, 2022 will represent the “biggest change to housing law in Wales for decades”.

Measures being brought in by the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 include increasing the controversial ‘no-fault’ eviction period from two months to six months. This will prevent ‘no-fault’ eviction notices being served within the first six months, so tenants will have 12 months of security from the start of their tenancy.

There is also a strengthened duty on landlords to ensure the property is fit for human habitation such as ensuring regular electrical safety tests, and installation of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. On this issue, the legislation lays out 29 matters for consideration including issues like mould, damp, cold, noise, and pests.

CIEH Wales Director, Kate Thompson noted in her blog that tenants will be “delighted” that rent will not be payable during periods where their homes are deemed unfit.

She also pointed out that the changes coming in also included greater protections against retaliatory evictions, and should give stability for those fleeing domestic violence or where relationships have broken down, or where one of the tenants has passed away. This is because the new regulations will make it easier to add and remove names from the contract without having to start a new tenancy.

At the start of each tenancy, landlords will be required to provide a copy of the tenancy – known as the ‘occupation contract’ - to set out the rights and responsibilities of all parties. The tenant, under the new regulations, is known as the ‘contract-holder’.

The overhaul will also introduce a simpler system with two types of contract – ‘secure’ for the social rented sector, and ‘standard’ for the PRS (Private Rented Sector). Landlords will also be able to repossess abandoned properties without needing a court order.

“Communication and education is going to be key to the success of the new regime.”

Thompson added: “After a six year wait, we welcome the implementation of The Renting Homes (Wales) Act which will provide increased protections for tenants and contract-holders.

“Among other things, the legislation introduces a number of new safety responsibilities for landlords under the banner of new fitness for human habitation requirements.

“It’s going to be a busy time for environmental health professionals familiarising themselves with the legislation, and for landlords and agents who will need to prepare for the changes. Communication and education is going to be key to the success of the new regime.”

James added: “This Act represents the biggest change to housing law in Wales for decades. The Act will make it simpler and easier to rent a home in Wales, replacing various, complex pieces of existing legislation and case law with one clear legal framework. 

“When in place, contract-holders in Wales will have greater security of tenure than in any other part of the UK.”

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