Carl Sargeant, Minister for Housing and Regeneration
Last year, my colleague Huw Lewis, then Minister for Housing, Regeneration and Heritage, published the Welsh Government’s “Homes for Wales” White Paper. It set out a bold and ambitious programme of legislative and non-legislative action to help people meet their housing needs. It included a commitment to bring forward proposals for tenancy reform, based on the Law Commission’s 2006 Renting Homes report.
Nearly 70 per cent of respondents to the White Paper who expressed a view on tenancy reform supported this approach. There was also broad support for having a dedicated Bill on tenancy reform, to be introduced later in the current Assembly term.
It is widely acknowledged that current housing law is complex and, at times, inconsistent. This can create difficulties for tenants and for landlords in setting up rental agreements, resolving issues when these emerge, and also ending tenancies. The unnecessary differences in terms and conditions between local authority, housing association, and private tenancies also create barriers between sectors, impeding joint-working and the development of creative cross-sector solutions to housing needs. These differences may also lead to reluctance on the part of tenants to move between different types of rented accommodation, for fear of losing their current level of security or tenancy terms, which can, in turn, limit the opportunities and advantages that greater mobility could bring.
Today I am publishing a White Paper setting out proposals for our tenancy reform Bill. These have been informed by a range of evidence and extensive discussions with stakeholder organisations, including the Law Commission, with whom we have worked very closely. The Commission responded to our request to review and update the recommendations in its 2006 Renting Homes report. Its report from this work was published in April and can be accessed here - http://lawcommission.justice.gov.uk/publications/renting_homes_in_wales.htm.
Our proposals set out a new legislative framework for renting a home, which I believe will provide a fairer, more transparent and flexible system for both tenants and landlords. At the heart of the new arrangements will be two types of rental contract:
- A “secure contract” modelled on the current secure tenancy issued by local authorities
- A “standard contract” modelled on the assured shorthold tenancy that is used mainly in the private rented sector
The new arrangements will apply to social landlords and their tenants, and also to the private rented sector. They will improve the efficiency of the housing system by creating a level playing field for landlords, enabling them to work more closely together in meeting the housing needs of our population. It will also mean a fairer deal for tenants, who will have comparable rights and responsibilities, irrespective of who they rent their home from.
The White Paper will be available on the Welsh Government website.
The consultation will run until 16 August 2013 and a consultation response report will be published later in the year.