Taylor & Co Property in Abergavenny

Housing law is changing: We’re getting ready for July 15th 2022, are you?

Did you know that the biggest change to housing law in Wales for decades is fast approaching and this will affect how we manage and let properties in Wales. 

The Welsh Government have announced that the Renting Homes (Wales) Act will be coming into force on 15th July 2022. 

The main changes are: -

  • Tenants will become known as contract holders
  • Contract holders will have an occupation contract
  • Tenancy agreements will cease and be replaced by standard contracts

The aim of the Act is to give contract holders more rights and an improved sense of security in their rented home.  There are four main terms that can feature in occupation contracts: -

  • Key matters: the names of the parties and the address of the property
  • Fundamental terms: the most important part of the contracts including possession procedures and the landlord’s obligations regarding repair
  • Supplementary terms: the practical day to day matters applying to the contract such as the requirement for the contract holder to notify the landlord if the property is going to be empty for 4 weeks or more
  • Additional terms: any other specifically agreed matters, such as keeping pets

The landlord will be required to issue a written statement to all parties.  For new rentals after 15th July, the written statement must be issued 14 days after occupation.  Existing tenancy agreements will convert to the relevant occupation contract on 15th July and landlords will then have a maximum of 6 months to issue a written statement of the converted occupation contract to their contract holders.

Key points for landlords to consider: -

  • Where the contract holder has breached the occupation contract, the minimum notice period that must be given is one month, unless there is a breach of anti-social behaviour or serious rent arrears and then it can be sooner
  • Where a ‘no fault’ notice is issued, the minimum notice period is 6 months
  • A landlord will not be able to give notice until 6 months after the contract starts
  • A landlord will not be able to give notice unless they have complied with certain obligations
  • Landlord break clauses can only be incorporated into a fixed term contract if the contract has a fixed term of 2 years or more. A break clause cannot be exercised in the first 18 months of occupation

Further requirements of the Act

The Renting Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation Regulations) 2022 (FFHH)

Section 91 of the Act sets out obligations placed on the landlord regarding the condition of a dwelling and applies to all occupation contracts of less than 7 years. The landlord must ensure that the dwelling is both in repair and fit for human habitation.

A landlord is required to always keep the dwelling in repair, and they cannot place an obligation on the contract holder regarding the repair where the repair is not the fault of the contract holder.  The landlord obligation extends to: -

  • The structure and the exterior of the dwelling
  • The service installations

The aim of the Act and the FFHH Regulations is one of prevention to ensure that landlords maintain dwellings to prevent them from becoming unfit for human habitation. The Regulations set out 29 matters which determine whether a dwelling is FFHH. 

The 29 matters include, amongst others: -

  • Damp and mould growth
  • Cold and heat
  • Carbon monoxide (alarms to be present in every room which has a gas, oil or solid fuel burning appliance)
  • Electricity (periodic testing and inspection to be carried out by a qualified person every 5 years or less and the EICR to be made available to the contract holder within 7 days of occupation date. Any work carried out in the intervening period must be confirmed in writing to the contract holder)
  • Noise
  • Food safety and hygiene
  • Personal hygiene, sanitation and drainage
  • Falls
  • Fire (a mains wired smoke alarm must be fitted on each storey of a dwelling and be interlinked)
  • Asbestos
  • Collision and entrapment

If the 29 matters are not complied with, the dwelling will be treated as if it were unfit FHH.

Transition periods for existing tenancies

We are still waiting for more guidance to be issued but can advise that: -

  • All existing tenancies will automatically convert to the new contracts on 15th July and landlords will have until 15th January 2023 to issue a written statement
  • The EICR and smoke alarm regulations will only apply to new contracts initially and landlords will have 12 months to bring existing dwellings up to standard

We will of course be issuing further guidance when it becomes available.  For our existing managed properties, we will be contacting the tenants in due course and advising them about their new contracts and what this will mean for them. 

For new contract holders, our system will be automatically start issuing standard contracts and written statements from 15th July.

We can arrange contractor quotes for landlords to assist them in ensuring their properties meet the new requirements.

If you have any queries regarding what this means for you, please get in touch with Harriet Eccles on

  • 01873 564424
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Kate Taylor MNAEA

Director

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