Answers to common questions about changes to the way tenants and licensees in Wales rent properties.
When will the new law apply?
The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 comes into effect on 1 December 2022. All of the regulations made under the Act (e.g. the Fitness for Human Habitation Regulations) will also come into effect on the same date.
Why is the law changing and what difference will Renting Homes make to me?
The new law will give more protection to tenants and makes clearer their rights and responsibilities. Changes will include:
- You landlord has to give you a written contract setting out all of your rights and responsibilities, and those of the landlord;
- Doubling the notice period for a rent increase from one month to two months;
- Longer notice periods (for new contracts issued from 1 December) before your landlord can regain possession (as long as you are paying your rent and haven’t done anything wrong); and
- More flexible arrangements for joint contracts - joint contract-holders can be more easily added to an existing agreement.
Will I still be a tenant under Renting Homes?
Yes. You will still be a tenant under Renting Homes. Your tenancy agreement will be known as an occupation contract (see below).
What happens to my existing tenancy agreement after 1 December?
Your tenancy agreement will convert into an 'occupation contract', which will replace your tenancy agreement. Many of your existing tenancy terms will remain the same but others such as the landlord needing to give greater notice of a rent increase will replace those terms in your existing contract.
There are two types of occupation contract:
- Secure occupation contract: This replaces secure tenancies and assured tenancies and will be the main contract issued by local authorities and housing associations; and
- Standard occupation contract: This is the contract that will mainly be used in the private rented sector (where you have a landlord who is not a council/local authority or a housing association).
Will my landlord issue me any new paperwork or forms after 1 December?
Your existing tenancy agreement will convert into an occupation contract. You don’t need to do anything for this to happen. Your landlord will have to issue you with a ‘written statement’ of the contract before the 1 June 2023. Your landlord can issue your written statement in hardcopy or, if you agree, electronically.
For anyone moving into their home on or after 1 December, landlords will have up to 14 days to issue the written statement.
So what is the Written Statement then?
The written statement sets out the terms of your contract. This replaces your tenancy agreement. For more information on the different types of terms please see the tenant guidance document.
How will you ensure landlords are issuing written statements?
Tenants will be entitled to compensation if they are not issued with a written statement by their landlord. A landlord will also be unable to issue a ‘no fault’ notice of possession if they have not issued a written statement.
Will the new law mean that my rent is going to increase?
No. There is nothing in the new law that means that your rent will go up. If you live in social housing your rent will still only increase in line with the Social Rent Policy, as set by the Welsh Government.
How much notice do I have to give my landlord if I want to end the contract?
The notice period is a minimum of four weeks. However, you will not normally be able to end a fixed term standard contract early.
Can my landlord get possession if I haven’t broken my tenancy or occupation contract?
There may be reasons why a landlord needs to regain possession such as needing to live there themselves or they need to sell. Your landlord can regain possession of the property by issuing you a section 173 landlord notice, which is a ‘no fault’ notice whereby your landlord can regain possession without having to give a reason for doing so. The period of notice your landlord must give you will depend when your contract started.
If you have a new contract agreed on or after 1 December 2022, your landlord must provide you a minimum of six months’ notice. Your landlord can’t issue this notice to you within the first six months of you moving in, meaning you will have at least twelve months before you can be asked to leave. In addition, your landlord cannot issue a section 173 notice if you have a fixed term contract - they must wait for that fixed term period to end first, and only then if you have been living in the property for six months.
If you are living in the property before 1 December 2022 your existing tenancy will convert to an occupation contract on 1 December and the rules around a section 173 notice are slightly different. These rules are a little more complicated and vary depending on the type of contract in place on 1 December 2022.
If you are on a periodic contract (a contract that has no defined end date and probably started after your initial fixed term period ended), a landlord’s notice is currently two months, and this will stay the same after 1 December 2022 when you convert to a periodic standard contract.
If you are currently on a fixed term contract and the expiry of that contract is after 1 December 2022 (please see above paragraph if your fixed term is due to expire before 1 December 2022) you will convert to a fixed term standard contract. A landlord can bring your fixed term contract to an end by issuing you with a two-month notice (this notice could be issued before 1 December or after using a landlord’s notice under section 186 of the Act) but they must do this before the fixed term period comes to an end. If you and your landlord are both happy for occupation to continue after the fixed term ends, the rules on a section 173 notice will depend on what contract replaces the fixed term. If you continue to live in the property after the fixed term, a periodic contract will replace the fixed term and a landlord must give you six months’ notice to bring this contract to an end. If you and the landlord agree to enter another fixed term contract a landlord cannot end this contract and must again wait for this to expire and be replaced by a periodic contract. This can be quite complicated and you may wish to seek separate advice from Shelter Cymru or Citizens Advice.
What is succession and how does it affect me?
Succession simply means that when you die you can pass on your home to another family member or carer that live there with you currently. Your home can be passed on a maximum of two times – first to a priority successor (for example, your spouse/partner) and then a reserve successor (for example, your adult child or a carer).
What about pets?
Any pet clause in your contract should allow you to ask for permission to keep a pet. Your landlord would not be allowed to unreasonably refuse the request.
Do I have to tell my landlord if I am leaving my property unoccupied?
If you know you are going to be absent from the property for more than 28 days in a row (for example, a hospital admission or an extended holiday) you should inform your landlord beforehand.
Do tenancy deposit schemes remain the same from 1 December?
Yes. Existing deposits protected in approved schemes will be unaffected.
What are the Fitness for Human Habitation (FFHH) Requirements?
The aim of the Fitness Regulations is to help ensure landlords maintain dwellings to prevent them from becoming unfit for human habitation.
If you believe that your property is unfit but your landlord does not agree, it would ultimately be for the court to decide whether a property is unfit based on the Regulations. A court claim would be made the same way as a disrepair claim currently.
However, if you withheld rent on the basis the property was unfit, this would potentially create a ground for possession - either breach of contract or the serious rent arrears ground.
Is damp or mould a consideration for FFHH?
Yes, as this could lead to a health problem and is therefore a potential health hazard.
Has the law changed in relation to smoke alarms?
Yes. Your landlord must ensure that there is a hard wired smoke alarm on each floor of your home. For more information please see the Fitness of homes for human habitation guidance for landlords.
Has the law changed in relation to carbon monoxide alarms?
Yes. Your landlord must ensure that a carbon monoxide alarm which is in repair and proper working order is in each room of the home which contains a gas appliance, an oil fired combustion appliance or a solid fuel burning combustion appliance.
Has the law changed in relation to electrical safety?
Yes. Your landlord must ensure that an electrical safety inspection is done at least every five years and there is valid electrical condition report in place. You must be provided a copy of this report. For more information please see the Fitness of homes for human habitation guidance for landlords.