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Longer tenancies for renters in Wales

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From spring 2022, new Welsh tenancy agreements will be for a minimum 12 months.

This is among a raft of changes included in the Renting Homes (Amendment) (Wales) Bill which was passed by the Welsh Senedd this week. The Bill now only needs royal assent to become law. 

Other new measures in the Bill include extension of minimum notice periods from two to six months in the case of ‘no fault evictions’

Rental contracts will be simplified and standardised with model contracts available so as to bring greater clarity to landlord and tenant responsibilities.

About 30 per cent of Welsh homes are rented – 209,000 from landlords and 229,000 from councils or housing associations.

Housing and Local Government Minister Julie James said the new law would make renting in Wales ‘fair, simple and efficient’ for all renters.

‘Thanks to our efforts, tenants will have greater peace of mind when renting. Everyone has the right to feel secure in their own home and to be able to plan for the future.

‘There will also be clear benefits for landlords. Clearer and easier to understand contracts will reduce disputes and legal costs and the new regime will provide a better way for landlords to deal with abandoned properties’.

The new law has been promised for some time, its consideration held up by the Coronavirus Crisis. When introduced, it was explained the Bill sought to give tenants additional security by extending the minimum notice period for issuing a section 173 notice under the 2016 Act (the equivalent of the current section 21 notice under the Housing Act 1988) from two months to six months.  Landlords would also be prevented from issuing such a notice until at least six months from the date of occupancy, meaning that those renting their home will have a minimum of 12 months security of tenure from the outset of their contract – double the then current position.  Further provisions would also ensure that landlords are unable to issue rolling ‘speculative’ notices on a ‘just in case’ basis, ‘which can undermine the sense of security that those renting a home should be able to enjoy’.

It was also explained the new law would make a number of changes to the way fixed-term standard contracts operate ‘to ensure these are not adopted by unscrupulous landlords as a means of circumventing the additional security that will be provided under a periodic standard contract’.  

However, the Act could be open to challenge since Welsh MPs were previously briefed that it may deal with issues that go beyond the Senedd’s remit.