From 1st December 2022, new rules surrounding how proprieties are rented in Wales came into force through the Renting Homes Wales Act 2016.
The new rules aim to simplify the law for both Landlords and Tenants. The following terminology has been updated under the new rules to make it easier for all to understand;
Tenants and Licensees: Both will now be referred to as ‘Contract Holders’.
Tenancy and License Arrangements: These type of arrangements have been replaced with ‘Occupation Contracts’.
What is an occupation contract?
An occupation contract is the new term for a tenancy agreement. All occupation contracts must be in writing.
Contract-holders will be able to enter into two types of occupation contracts;
These contracts are used by community landlords, primarily local authorities and registered social landlords.
These contracts are for use by private landlords in the private rented sector, but they can be used by local authorities and registered landlords in certain circumstances, such as a supported standard contract.
A Landlord is required to serve a written statement containing all the terms of the occupation contract to all contract holders within 14 days of the commencement of the contract, either by post or if agreed with the contract holder, electronically. For existing contracts prior to the 1st December 2022, there is a maximum period of 6 months to serve the statement.
The written statement must refer to all of the key matters of the contract, including;
The address of the property;
The occupation date;
Whether the contract is periodic or for a fixed term;
Any period of non-occupation, i.e. student accommodation in non-term time.
The terms included in the written statement will depend on the type of contract. A full list of model statements and terms can be found on the Welsh Government’s website Renting homes: model written statements | GOV.WALES
Fit for Human Habitation
The new rules provide a requirement to Landlords to make sure the property is kept in a maintained and repaired condition, referred to as ‘fit for human habitation’.
The onus is on the landlord to ensure a property is fit to live in for the whole of the contract period. You must ensure properties are maintained and kept in a good condition, so that it is fit for human habitation. This includes but is not limited to;
· Electrical safety testing;
· Maintaining smoke alarms;
· Fitting carbon monoxide detectors;
The property exterior must also be kept in a good condition of repair including all drainage, gutters and external pipes, and any service installations related to gas, water and electric must be kept in proper working order.
A full list of hazards and circumstances, fitness and repair obligations can be found below;
What if I provide supported accommodation?
You will be classified as providing supported accommodation if you provide support services, such as;
Controlling and overcoming addiction
Finding employment or alternative accommodation
Providing support to someone unable to live alone due to their age, illness, disability or any other reason
You will not need to issue an occupation contract for the first six months of occupancy. After six months, the contract holder will be entitled to a supported standard contract. This will allow you to relocate the contract-holder with the accommodation building, and temporarily exclude them from the building for up to 48 hours if necessary.
How can I bring an occupation contract to an end?
Landlords break clause can only be included in a fixed term occupation contract of two years or more. A break clause cannot be used to bring a contract to an end within the first 18 months of occupation.
If the property is abandoned, you will be able to repossess after serving a four-week warning notice without Court intervention and carrying out enquiries to ensure the property is empty.
How can I serve a notice?
If the terms of the occupation contract are breached, a notice can be issued to bring the contract to an end.
You will be able to serve a notice if you are;
Registered as a Landlord through Rent Smart Wales
Licensed as a Landlord through Rent Smart Wales
Have complied with the Deposit Protection Scheme rules.
No notice can be served until 6 months after the start date of the occupation contract.
Until 1st June 2023, the notice period for no fault evictions is 2 months. After this date the notice period changes to 6 months.
Retaliatory evictions have been introduced under the new rules. A notice issued in response to a request for repair will not be valid and no further notice can be served for a 6 month period and the Landlord has undertaken repairs of the property.
The type of notice is dependent on the reason for eviction and whether there is more than one contract holder. A full list of forms and notices can be found on the Welsh Government's website: Renting homes: forms for landlords | GOV.WALES
For more help and advice contact us.