Key developments under the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016

29 November 2022

So far we have looked at what the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 will mean for existing assured shorthold tenancies, eviction notices and some ways to end an occupation contract.

In this article we will conclude a three-part series looking at some developments brought about by the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016.

With just under a week until the changes, here is what to expect.

Fit for Human Habitation

Under the new law, landlords will have to ensure that properties are ‘Fit for Human Habitation’, which includes making sure that electrical safety tests are conducted and working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are installed.

The ‘fitness test’ will be based on the current Housing Health and Safety Rating System and a contract holder can refuse to pay rent during any period a property is unfit for human habitation.

As mentioned in our first article, a landlord’s obligations to repair will be a fundamental provision of any occupation contract. This will include having to maintain the exterior and structure of all properties and making sure utilities like water, gas, electricity, sanitation, heating, and hot water are running properly.

In addition, contract holders will have greater protection if they want to complain about the condition of a property, since a landlord who issues a possession notice in response to a repair request (retaliatory eviction) won’t automatically be entitled to possession. If a court finds that a landlord has engaged in retaliatory eviction, the landlord will be unable to issue another section 173 notice for six months.

Other developments

Under the current law, there is no provision for a landlord to solely evict a tenant from a property under a joint tenancy. The only way to do this is to seek possession of a property against all parties and end the tenancy. However, the new law will make it easier for joint contract holders to be added to or removed from occupation contracts without ending the contract for the remaining joint contract holders.

Succession rights will also be increased to allow both a ‘priority’ and ‘reserve’ successor to inherit an occupation contract. Certain groups, including some carers, will also be able to take over an occupation contract if a contract holder dies.

A further development is that landlords will be able to repossess abandoned properties if a contract holder leaves without letting them know. Landlords will be able to do this without a court order if they serve a four week warning notice and conduct their own investigations to confirm the property has been abandoned. For the abandonment procedure to work, the contract holder must occupy the dwelling as their only or principal residence and this must be a term in the contract.

Finally, “supported standard contracts” will be available to those who have lived in supported accommodation (like care homes) for more than six months. This contract will be like a standard one, but with some additional terms that give a landlord the right to move a contract holder within a building and temporarily exclude them for up to 48 hours, a maximum of three times in six months

What this means and how we can help

The new succession rights will offer extra security to contract holders and provide greater income security for landlords.

By creating minimum standards for rental properties, the new ‘fit for human habitation’ requirements will also increase a contract holder’s security.

We can review occupation contracts to ensure that contract holders also maintain properties to at least the standards required by the new Act and ensure any new definitions are updated.

Please do not hesitate to contact the team if you require further information on the above.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.