Tenants find out how new laws are planned to change your rights from 15 July 2022.
Renting Homes is the biggest change to housing law in Wales for decades. It increases protections for tenants and licensees, and clarifies their rights and responsibilities. Because Renting Homes applies to both tenants and licensees, they are called ‘contract-holders’ under the new law. Your landlord will issue you with an 'occupation contract', which will replace your tenancy or licence agreement.
There are two types of occupation contract:
- secure contract: This replaces secure tenancies issued by local authorities and assured tenancies issued by Registered Social Landlords (RSLs); and
- standard contract: This is the default contract for the private rented sector (PRS), but can be used by local authorities and RSLs in certain circumstances (e.g. a ‘supported standard contract’ for supported accommodation).
Your occupation contract with your landlord will have to be set out in a ‘written statement’. The purpose of the written statement is to confirm the terms of the contract. This written statement must contain all required contractual terms. These are:
- Key matters: For example, the names of the parties and address of the property. These must be inserted in every contract.
- Fundamental Terms: Cover the most important aspects of the contract, including the possession procedures and the landlord’s obligations regarding repair.
- Supplementary Terms: Deal with the more practical, day to day matters applying to the occupation contract, for example, the requirement to notify the landlord if the property is going to be unoccupied for four weeks or more.
- Additional Terms: Addresses any other specifically agreed matters, for example a term which relates to the keeping of pets.
It must also include information that explains the meaning and importance of the contract.
Contracts can be issued in hardcopy or, if the contract-holder agrees, electronically. Signing the contract is good practice, as it confirms you are content with it.
Fitness for human habitation
Landlords must ensure properties are fit for human habitation (FFHH). This will include, for instance, electrical safety testing and ensuring working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are fitted. In addition, rent will not be payable for any period during which the dwelling is not fit for human habitation.
There is greater security for people who live in the private rented sector (“PRS”):
- Providing you comply with the contract, the minimum notice period for a ‘no fault notice’ given under section 173 (which is similar to section 21 of the Housing Act 1988) is increased to 6 months.
- Section 173 possession notices cannot be issued until 6 months after you move in (the ‘occupation date’ of the contract).
- If a landlord has served a section 173 notice but has not acted upon it, they cannot issue a further notice until 6 months after the expiry of the previous notice.
- Landlords cannot normally issue, during the fixed term period, a notice to end a fixed term standard contract. If you do not leave, the fixed term contract will usually become a periodic standard contract at the end of the fixed term, and the landlord will be required to serve a 6 month section 173 notice to bring this to an end.
Landlords cannot include a break clause (to regain possession) in fixed term standard contracts of less than 2 years. If the fixed term is longer than 2 years, a landlord cannot activate a break clause until at least month 18 of the fixed term contract, using a minimum 6 month notice.
Protection against retaliatory eviction
If a landlord responds to a request for repair by issuing a possession notice, a landlord will no longer be automatically entitled to possession if the Court is satisfied the landlord issued the notice to avoid carrying out the repair.
Contract-holders can be added or removed from occupation contracts without the need to end one contract and start another. This will make managing joint contract easier and help victims of domestic abuse by enabling the perpetrator to be targeted for eviction.
Enhanced succession rights
Enables both a ‘priority’ and ‘reserve’ successor to succeed to the occupation contract. This allows 2 successions to the contract to take place, for example a spouse followed by another family member. In addition, a new succession right for carers is created.
If you live in supported accommodation for more than 6 months, you become entitled to a ‘supported standard contract’. The supported standard contract will operate in a similar way to the standard contract. However, your landlord may include terms in the contract relating to:
- the ability to relocate the contract-holder within the building
- the ability for the landlord to temporarily exclude the contract-holder from the dwelling for up to 48 hours, a maximum of 3 times in 6 months