There are set to be significant changes to landlord and tenant law in Wales in 2023
There are set to be significant changes to landlord and tenant law in Wales in 2023. These updates are being brought in by the UK and Welsh governments after new laws were introduced last year. They are set to take effect in the coming months.
If you are someone who needs to keep up with what's happening in the private rental sector in Wales, it's crucial that you understand what these changes are and what they mean for you.
Below, we examine the new landlord rules in Wales and dive into what these changes look like for those who rent or let property.
What are the new landlord rules in Wales?
There are several updates to be aware of if you're affected by changes in the lettings sector. These new landlord rules in Wales are part of the introduction of a new Act. It was announced in January 2022 that the long-awaited Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 was set to come into force. On 1 December last year, some of the changes to renting laws that this law brings came into effect. More changes are set to come into play in June 2023.
The purpose of this Act is to improve living conditions in Welsh rental properties, along with how they're managed. It's also there to make the process of letting a property easier for landlords. In order to make these changes to landlord and tenant laws, there are some new processes that both landlords and tenants must be aware of. These include:
Tenants have a new name
Tenants have been renamed as part of the Renting Homes Act. The people who are living in rental properties in Wales are now referred to as 'contract-holders'. This is to make it easier to define who is entitled to live in the property if the circumstances of their tenancy change. For instance, if someone wants to leave the property and they're part of a joint tenancy, there is no need to end the contract that's currently in place and start a new one.
Changes to the notice period
From June 2023, if landlords in Wales want to issue their contract-holders with a no-fault notice, they will have to give at least six months’ notice if they want them to move out. A no-fault notice is where a landlord lets the people who are in the property know that they want them to leave, but not because they've breached their contract or done anything wrong. Previously, the notice period was two months.
This extension is possibly the biggest change to landlord notice periods under the Act. Other changes include what happens if a contract owner stops paying rent. Here, the landlord can serve a possession order which has one month's notice. More serious rent arrears mean the notice period is reduced to 14 days.
If they've breached their contract in a serious way, for instance, if the people in the property have behaved anti-socially, the landlord can serve a possession order and start court proceedings the same day. Landlords might also consider taking out cover to protect themselves should things go wrong with a tenant.
Another key point about ending a tenancy that contract-holders and landlords should be aware of is that the contract-holder must have lived in the property for at least six months before the landlord can give them the notice to leave. This applies unless the contract-holder has broken their contract. The landlord must also register with Rent Smart Wales and follow the deposit protection rules.
Fit to live in
The changes to landlord and tenant law as part of the Act also ensure that contract owners are paying to rent a property that's safe and fit to live in. Landlords are responsible for ensuring that the property they let out has fully operational carbon monoxide alarms and smoke detectors; that regular electrical safety tests are carried out; and that the water, gas, and electricity are all working properly. The structure of the property, along with its exterior, must also be kept in good condition.
The introduction of occupation contracts
Tenancy agreements in Wales have been swapped out with occupation contracts. These came into effect on 1 December 2022 and landlords must replace existing agreements with a 'converted occupation contract'.
Under the Act, occupation contracts must include details such as the names and addresses of the contract-holders and landlords, along with the terms of the contract and extra terms.
What to do next
Whether you're a landlord or a contract-holder, it's worth taking the time to ensure that you're meeting the requirements of the Act. Contract-holders should be aware of their rights around notice periods, while landlords must update their tenancy agreements so that they're now occupation contracts, and they must ensure the property is habitable.