How the Renting Homes law makes it easier to rent a home.
The Renting Homes law:
- gives more protection to tenants and licensees (called contract-holders under the Act)
- defines clear rights and responsibilities for contract-holders and landlords
Your landlord will issue you with an occupation contract.
There are 2 types of occupation contract:
- Secure contract: this replaces secure tenancies issued by local authorities and assured tenancies issued by housing associations that are Registered Social Landlords (RSLs)
- Standard contract: mainly used in the private rented sector. It can also be used by local authorities and RSLs in some circumstances (for example a supported standard contract for supported accommodation).
Your occupation contract with your landlord will have to be set out in a written statement. The written statement replaces your tenancy or licence agreement. It must include all the terms of the contract. The different types of terms 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: cover 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 4 weeks or more.
- Additional Terms: address any other specifically agreed matters, for example a term which relates to the keeping of pets
Contracts can be given in hardcopy or electronically (if the contract-holder agrees to an electronic copy). Signing the contract is good practice as it confirms you are happy with everything it says.
Fitness for human habitation
Landlords must make sure homes are safe to live in. For example by fitting working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and having an electrical safety test done. Rent will not be payable for any period during which the property is not fit for human habitation. You should first raise any concerns with your landlord and continue to pay rent. If there is a dispute it is ultimately for the Court to decide if your landlord has complied with the fitness obligation and you may be required to pay back any rent owed.
There is greater security for people who live in the private rented sector (PRS) under the new law:
- providing you do not break a term of the contract, your landlord must give you at least 6 months’ notice (a section 173 notice in the Act) to end the contract, often called a no fault’ notice (increased from 2 months’ notice)
- no fault notices cannot be issued until 6 months after you move in (the occupation date of the contract)
- if your landlord has not acted on the no fault notice (so they have not used it to try to get possession of the property), they cannot issue another one for 6 months
- if you have a fixed term contract (which says how long the contract is for) your landlord cannot normally issue a notice to end your contract. If you do not leave, the fixed term contract will usually become what is called a periodic standard contract at the end of the fixed term, and your landlord will have to serve a 6-month no fault notice to bring this to an end.
- landlords cannot include a break clause (to regain possession) in fixed term standard contracts of less than 2 years. If the fixed term is 2 years or more, your landlord cannot give you notice until at least month 18 of the fixed term contract, and will have to give you at least 6 months’ notice.
Protection against retaliatory eviction
If your landlord issues you with a no-fault notice just because you have complained your home is in a poor state of repair, the Court will not have to grant possession to the landlord. You can therefore seek a repair without worrying your home will be at risk.
Contract-holders can be added or removed from occupation contracts without the need to end one contract and start another. This will make managing joint contracts easier and help people experiencing domestic abuse by enabling the abuser to be targeted for eviction.
Enhanced succession rights
Enables both a priority and reserve person (successor) to succeed to the occupation contract if the contact-holder dies. This allows 2 successions to the contract to take place, for example a husband or wife followed by another family member. There is also a new succession right for carers.
Landlords can repossess an abandoned property without needing a court order after serving a 4-week warning notice and carrying out investigations to be sure the property is abandoned.
If you live in supported accommodation for more than 6 months, you become entitled to a supported standard contract. The supported standard contract will operate in a similar way to the standard contract but can be ended with a 2-month no-fault notice. However, your landlord may also include terms in the contract relating to:
- the ability to change where the contract-holder is living within the building
- the ability for the landlord to temporarily exclude the contract-holder from the dwelling for up to 48 hours, a maximum of 3 times in 6 months
If you rent your property from a community landlord (for example, a local authority or RSL) then your rent will still only increase in line with the Social Rent Policy, as set by the Welsh Government.
If you have any issues with your contract or home, you should first contact your landlord. However, if you are unable to resolve the matter then you may wish to seek assistance from Shelter Cymru or Citizens Advice.
You may also find it useful to read What Renting Homes Means for Landlords guidance document and the tenant and landlord frequently asked questions documents which give more information on subjects such as notice periods for evictions.