Julie James AM, Minister for Housing and Local Government
The Welsh Government is committed to improving security of tenure for people who rent their homes.
The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 is key to making renting a positive choice and achieving security of tenure. However, its implementation has been delayed due to the reform of court IT systems in England and Wales.
We are now in a position where we are able to proceed with implementation of this important Act. In doing so, we will honour our commitment to give six months’ notice ahead of the Act coming into force so landlords, agents and licensees and tenants – who will be known as contract-holders under the Act – have time to prepare for the changes.
The Act provides a new, streamlined and reformed basis for residential letting in Wales, with significant benefits for anyone who rents their home. These include:
- Mandatory written contracts, clearly setting out all the relevant rights and responsibilities of landlords and contract-holders;
- Arrangements for joint contracts, which will stop one joint contract-holder acting alone to end the contract, helping to prevent unintentional homelessness;
- Protection against retaliatory evictions – when a landlord evicts a tenant in response to a request for repairs or maintenance;
- The introduction of a Fitness for Human Habitation standard for all privately rented properties, including regulations setting out requirements for smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and electrical safety testing.
However, there is more we can do, in particular to address widely held concerns about the use of no fault evictions.
Section 173 of the Act, as currently drafted, allows a property owner to seek possession of a property without a breach of contract occurring with two months’ notice.
I am today launching a consultation asking for views about amending the Renting Homes Act before it comes into force. Under the consultation are main proposals for periodic contracts (those contracts with no end-date):
- Extending the minimum notice period applicable to a section 173 notice from two to six months;
- Restricting a landlord from serving a section 173 notice within the first six months of a periodic contract, rather than four months as currently provided for;
- Placing a six-month restriction on issuing a section 173 notice following the expiry of a previous notice.
The main proposals for fixed-term contracts (those contracts with a pre-agreed end-date) are:
- Removal of a landlord’s ability to end a fixed term standard contract under section 186;
- To consider the use of break clauses in fixed term contracts.
We are also seeking views about other proposals intended to complement those outlined above, including:
- Restrictions on issuing possession notices to landlords which the courts have found to have carried out retaliatory eviction;
- Restrictions on issuing possession notices to property owners in breach of other laws related to rented housing, such as not having an Energy Performance Certificate or a valid gas safety certificate.
I believe these proposals will improve security of tenure for everyone renting in Wales, including those who rent from social property owners, which may also use no fault notices in certain situations.
There are legitimate reasons why a property owner may need possession of their property, such as to live in it themselves. Getting the balance right is vital if we are to maintain and encourage a vibrant private rented rector that provides high quality homes.
The consultation document and questions can be found at https://gov.wales/increasing-minimum-notice-period-no-fault-eviction and the consultation will close on 5 September.