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Wales set for major change in landlord and tenant law

The ‘biggest change to housing law in Wales for decades’ will be made in July this year with implementation of the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016.

Announcing the intended timetable, Welsh Minister for Climate Change, Julie James, admitted to a ‘longer than expected’ wait for implementation of the 2016 Act, but said it had ‘required the development of many statutory instruments’.

‘In order to avoid confusion’, she said, ‘we also decided to deliver on our commitment to increase security of tenure prior to implementation of the 2016 Act, which we did by bringing forward the Renting Homes (Amendment) (Wales) Act 2021’.

The 2016 Act allows tenants (now to be called ‘contract-holders’) greater security of tenure. It will introduce a six-month notice requirement for ‘no fault’ terminations and also ban landlords from issuing possession notices during the first six months of tenancies. Together the measures will mean that in the absence of tenancy agreement breaches, ‘contract-holders’ will have a minimum tenure of one year from the date of moving in.

The Act will also prohibit ‘retaliatory evictions’. Tenants will be able to challenge possession notices issued following requests for repairs on the grounds that those notices were issued to avoid having to undertake the work requested.

Another change will be that it will be permissible to add or remove joint ‘contract-holders’ from tenancies without the need to first end the existing tenancy agreement (‘occupation contract’). This, said James, will make managing joint contracts easier and help those experiencing domestic abuse by enabling the perpetrator to be targeted for eviction.

The Welsh Government is about to publish information about new landlord obligations under the Act including: default supplementary terms to be included in new ‘occupation contracts’; explanatory information to be included in occupation contracts; model occupation contracts; and fitness for human habitation obligations. This is to be included on its Renting Homes webpages from Friday 14 January when a communications campaign to raise awareness of the change of law amongst landlords and tenants will also begin.