Landlords’ Housing Law: Has Wales got it Right?

With the Renting Homes Act 2016 set to come into force across Wales this December, it’s important to understand what the act means for you as a landlord.


What is the new act?

The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 will take effect from December 1st, 2022. The main point of the act is to improve how people ‘rent, manage and live’ in rented homes in Wales. While some believe it will make things simpler for landlords, many are arguing that it only benefits tenants.

Originally scheduled to go live in June 2022, the act was postponed for six months to allow landlords to prepare for the changes, which centre around three key requirements:


  1. End of tenancy agreements

Tenancy agreements are being replaced with ‘occupation contracts’, which need to include main terms (rules around repairs and possession), extra terms (communication expectations and pets) and key details (names and addresses of landlords and tenants).


  1. Landlord notice periods

The Renting Homes Act 2016 also extends the minimum notice period that landlords can give tenants, which is perhaps one of the most controversial changes being implemented. Now, if a landlord wishes to regain possession of their property for no specific reason, they will have to give their tenant six months’ notice, which many believe is too long.

However, if a tenant breaches their occupation contract, the landlord will only have to give one month’s notice.


  1. Rental property condition

Landlords must also meet higher standards for safety before they can rent out a property. They must ensure the home is fit for human inhabitation, which includes regularly checking smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and providing a Gas Safety Certificate, Electrical Inspection Condition Report and Energy Performance Certificate.

This is similar to the current safety requirements in place in England, where landlords must ensure there are smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms installed, and they must also check that all electrical systems and furnishings are safe.


What do changes mean for landlords?

While it could be argued that the new act benefits tenants more than landlords, especially given the longer notice periods, the occupation contracts should make the renting process smoother for landlords, helping them to provide clear guidelines to tenants, while ensuring they have all the information required regarding the people renting their properties.

Some of the changes will also require landlords to spend more time and money on electrical safety testing and ensuring working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are fitted, but it could be argued that these measures should be in place already.


How are Landlords coping right now?

The last few years have seen several government changes that have hit property owners in the pocket. 55% of landlords who were planning to sell up identified recent legislative changes as their main reason for exiting the market.

One of the recent changes has been the introduction of the buy-to-let mortgage interest tax relief. This new system, phased in gradually since 2017, means you receive a tax-credit, based on 20% of your mortgage interest payments. This is a lot less generous than the old system for higher-rate taxpayers, who effectively received 40% relief on mortgage payments.

Higher taxpayers can no longer claim the tax back on their mortgage repayments, as the credit only refunds tax at the basic rate of 20%, leaving landlords with no other choice than to increase rent payments to help cover the shortfall.


Are there any differences between legislation in Wales and England?

The main difference is that, under the new act, there are more restrictions on no-fault evictions in Wales, with landlords no longer able to evict a tenant simply because they have complained about the condition of the property. If they wish to give a no-fault notice to a tenant, they will not be able to do so until 6 months after the contract starts. While this is a major improvement for tenants, as it provides them with a lot more security, this change has angered some landlords and left many feeling that their concerns are being ignored.

If you’re a landlord in Wales, make sure you stay up to date on all the latest legislation as the new act comes into force. If you’re welcoming new tenants under an occupation contract and have agreed to rent your property as furnished, why not check out our furniture packages today? With so many other things to deal with, we can help take some of the stress out of the whole process.

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