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Commencement and implementation of the Housing (Wales) Act 2014

The Bill received Royal Assent and became an Act on 17 September 2014.

Sections 142 (Power to make orders and regulations), 143 (Meaning of a local housing authority), 145 (Provision for commencement) and 146 (Short title of the Act (external link)) came into force on the date of Royal Assent.

Sections 132 to 136 of the Act came into effect on 18 November 2014. These provisions enabled local housing authorities to exit the Housing Revenue Account Subsidy (HRAS) system on 2 April 2015 and become self-financing.

The abolition of the HRAS provisions is scheduled for some point in 2016, with the exception of section 131(4)(c) which came into force in April 2015. The delayed commencement allows for the audit of a local housing authority’s final HRAS claim for 2014-2015 to be completed.

The remaining provisions are to come into effect by Commencement Order on dates set by the Welsh Ministers.

Private rented

From 23 November 2016, all sections of the private rented housing provisions contained in Part 1 have been commenced. Landlords and agents of rental properties in Wales are required to register and/or be licensed through Rent Smart Wales.

Homelessness

We have provided £11.4 million in transitional funding to local authorities since 2015 to help them implement the legislation.

The draft budget for 2018/19 and 2019/20 proposes an additional £10 million for each of the next two years to tackle homelessness.

Up to June 2017, 11,300 people had been successfully helped to avoid homelessness through action under the Act.

We have commissioned Salford University to evaluate the implementation of the legislation. Their final report is expected to be published by March 2018.

Gypsies and Traveller provisions

The Gypsies and Traveller provisions, except sections 103 and 104, came into effect on 25 February 2015. This placed a duty on local authorities to undertake Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessments (GTAAs) by March 2016. Sections 103 And 104 requiring local authorities to address unmet needs identified in the GTAAs and the Welsh Ministers’ direction making powers that could be used if a local authority has failed to comply with its duty under this Part, were expected to be commenced on 16 March 2016. All local authorities have now approved GTAAs and are making progress towards meeting the identified needs. Across Wales, these needs totalled 237 residential pitches and 33 transit pitches by 2021.

Welsh Housing Quality Standard

It is intended that commencement of the local authority standards provisions will be phased over time to allow for the different standards and guidance to be developed. Initially, powers to allow for the rent standard and related guidance were commenced on 1 December 2014.

Co-operative housing

The co-operative housing provisions relating to the granting of assured tenancies came into effect at the end of 2014.

Empty homes

The 22 Local Authorities are now responsible for determining their own policies in respect of charging council tax premiums. The Act provided them discretionary powers to charge a council tax premium of up to 100% of the standard charge on long-term empty homes and second homes in their area. In 2017-18 a number of local authorities chose to use these powers. Statistics are available on the current council tax charges on long term empty homes and second homes in Wales.

We will continue to monitor the use of these new discretionary powers.