Guide to the Renting Homes Act 2016

The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 came into force on 1st December 2022.

Our guide to the act covers:

  • When will the new law apply?
  • What does the new law mean for landlords?
  • What does the new law mean for tenants?
  • How are tenancy agreements changing?
  • What are your obligations for existing tenancies?
  • What are your obligation for new tenancies (occupation contracts)?
  • What's changing for "no fault" evictions and notice periods?
  • How can I evict a tenant who is not paying rent?
  • What are the new safety requirements for private rented properties under the act?

When will the new law apply?

The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 comes into effect on 1 December 2022. All of the regulations made under the Act (e.g. the Fitness for Human Habitation Regulations) will also come into effect on the same date.

What does the new law mean for landlords?

  • A simpler system, with two types of contract: ‘Secure’ for the social rented sector and ‘Standard’ for the private rented sector.
  • Ensuring homes are fit for human habitation (FFHH). This will include, electrical safety testing and ensuring working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are fitted.
  • Abandoned properties can be repossessed without needing a court order.

What does the new law mean for tenants?

Under the new law, tenants and licensees will become 'contract-holders'. Tenancy agreements will be replaced with 'occupation contracts'. This will make renting easier and provide greater security.

Receiving a written contract setting out your rights and responsibilities.

An increase in the ‘no fault’ notice period from two to six months.

Greater protection from eviction.

Improved succession rights, these set out who has a right to continue to live in a dwelling, for example after the current tenant dies.

More flexible arrangements for joint contract-holders, making it easier to add or remove others to an occupation contract.

How are tenancy agreements changing?

There are two types of occupation contract that will be replacing tenancy agreements:

  • Secure contract: This replaces secure tenancies issued by local authorities and assured tenancies issued by housing associations that are Registered Social Landlords (RSLs); and
  • Standard contract: This is the contract that will mainly be used in the private rented sector.

The occupation contract has to be set out in a ‘written statement’. The purpose of the written statement is to confirm the terms of the contract. This written statement must contain all the ‘required contractual terms’. These are:

  • Key matters: For example, the names of the landlord and contract-holder and address of the property. These must be inserted in every contract.
  • Fundamental Terms: Covers the most important aspects of the contract, including how the landlord gets possession and the landlord’s obligations regarding repairs.
  • Supplementary Terms: Deals with the more practical, day to day matters applying to the occupation contract. For example, the requirement to notify the landlord if the property is going to be left unoccupied for four weeks or more.
  • Additional Terms: Addresses any other specifically agreed matters, for example a term which relates to the keeping of pets.

What are your obligations for existing tenancies?

For existing tenancies and licences, tenancy agreements will convert to the new occupation contract on 1st December 2022.

You will have six months to provide your current tenants with a copy of the new written statement of their contract.

This written statement should take into account all of the terms in the existing tenancy agreement, to ensure that the terms are reflected in the new occupation contract.

You can find a full guide on how to convert the contracts on the government's website. If you are a landlord managed by us, we will do this for you. Alternatively, speak to your local property management team to see how we can help.

What are your obligations for new tenancies (occupation contracts)?

From 1 December 2022, you will need to issue a written statement version of the occupation contract for any new contract-holders within 14 days of the move-in date specified in the contract. You will also need to ensure your property complies with the Renting Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation (Wales) Regulation 2022.

What's changing for "no fault" evictions and notice periods?

Section 21 possession notices will be replaced with section 173 notices, under the new act. This extends the minimum notice period that landlords can give tenants to six months for a "no fault" eviction.

For tenancies starting before the 1st December 2022, you will only be required to give two months’ notice under section 173. This increases to 6 months from June 2023.

A section 173 notice can not generally be served during the fixed term unless there is a break clause not sooner than 18 months into the occupation contract, and can only be served during a standard periodic contract after the first six months of occupation. This means that a contract-holder that does not breach the terms of their contract is entitled to occupy for a minimum of one year from the occupation date of a new contract.

How can I evict a tenant who is not paying rent?

If a contract-holder stops paying rent, the landlord is able to serve a possession notice on the basis that they have breached their contract (which has a one-month notice period).

If they are in serious rent arrears (two months or more non-payment) a landlord may serve a notice on that ground, which has a 14 day notice period.

Are landlords required to provide an inventory for an unfurnished property?

The Renting Homes legislation includes a supplementary provision requiring an inventory to be provided. The provision states, ‘the inventory must set out the dwelling’s contents’. If the property is unfurnished the inventory would reflect this and may refer only to fixtures. It is in both parties interests to have an accurate inventory.

What are the new safety requirements for private rented properties under the act?

The new law means that landlords are now obligated to make sure a private rented property is " fit for human habitation".

New rules under the Renting Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation (Wales) Regulations 2022 highlight that landlords should ensure:

  • At least one working smoke alarm on each floor is connected to the property's mains supply.
  • The smoke alarms also need to be inter-linked with all the other smoke alarms.
  • Every room with a gas appliance, an oil fired combustion appliance or a solid fuel burning combustion appliance has a working carbon monoxide alarm.
  • A valid Gas Safety Certificate, Electrical Inspection Condition Report, and Energy Performance Certificate are provided to the contract holder.

This article is intended as a guide only and does not constitute legal advice. For more information, visit the government's website for guidance and a list of FAQs.