The Welsh government is to go live with its controversial Renting Homes Wales Act on 15th July this year despite calls by landlords to ensure that it is ‘fit for purpose’.

Described by the country’s housing minister Julie James as the biggest shift in housing law in Wales for decades, it will usher in significant changes to the way landlords can evict tenants, issue tenancy contracts, and manage their properties.

This includes an already-in-place six-month notice requirement for a landlord to end a contract where the tenant is not at fault and a minimum ‘security of tenure’ of one year from the date of moving in.

This means that contract-holders in Wales will have the greatest protection from the start of their contract than in any other part of the UK, the minister claims.

Retaliatory evictions

The Act also gives protection against retaliatory eviction. If a landlord responds to a request for repairs by issuing a possession notice, they will no longer be automatically entitled to possession if the Court is satisfied the landlord issued the notice to avoid carrying out the repair.

Joint tenancies

Also, joint 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 those experiencing domestic abuse by enabling the perpetrator to be targeted for eviction.

Chris Norris, Director of Policy & Campaigns at the NRLA (pictured), says: “While we welcome the introduction of the Act, it is vital that the supporting legislation is fit for purpose and scrutinised sufficiently.

“In particular, the occupation contract terms, which all landlords must use, needs to improve significantly from its original consultation draft.

“These important steps must be taken before more complex regulations are introduced by the Welsh Government over the course of this year.”

The announcement has been made today because James promised last July to give landlords six months’ notice of the new rules, which will be available on its website from January 14th onwards.

20 COMMENTS

  1. Expect to see Welsh LL selling up en-masse.

    Might as well do so especially with the prospect of EPC C status being required in a few years time.

    Time to go I think!

    Expect to see Welsh homelessness massively increase.

    Leveraged LL especially will wish to sell up.

    Feckless rent defaulting tenants could easily bankrupt a leveraged Welsh LL once the new regulations are in force.

    Very few Welsh LL will be able to obtain RGI on their tenants.

    • Why? Why should retaliatory evictions deemed as bad? Why can’t tenants have longer contracts? Six months notice in a market where private tenancies, particularly where people have pets, are as rare as hens teeth, so finding new property becomes an utter nightmare. And why can’t tenants have a minimum of 12 months in a property? Would you like to have to move every six months? If you have a tenant in breach, serve a s8 with grounds. It’s not difficult! And as for an EPC rating of C, insulate your roofs and sort the windows/boiler out. You expect us to pay for poor housing and then complain when people don’t! We all have responsibility and landlords are included in that.

      • Insulate rooves, double glazing & a brand new condensing boiler will not get an EPC of C in most older properties. The only option is to sell to owner occupiers as they don’t have to worry about EPCs. (cos their pollution is ok for the planet apparently). This will cause a further lack of properties available for rent & higher rental costs for tenants. But no one cares do they? I have sold half of my properties for this reason & will consider selling more soon. Shelter, Gen Rent etc are making things worse for tenants as they don’t care either.

      • Hi Christine, You appear to think that the majority of Landlords are seeking to move tenants on which is without doubt totally incorrect. Most Landlords – with the exception of the greedy minority who “play their games” – are very happy to have long term Tenants and will do their very best to retain a good tenant, however, as is the case with the minority of “rogue Landlords” there are also a minority of “rogue Tenants” and it is those for whom the legislation needs to be in place for their removal in a timely manner. (rogue Tenants can mean those who don’t pay their rent, deal in drugs, are incapable of acting in a reasonable manner to “others” etc). One has to ask, would you like to live next door to such individuals or would you like your parents to similarly live close to same?
        With regard to the S8 notice you refer to, I don’t think that any of us know at this stage what process will be in place for the removal of the “rogue” element, we only hope that those legislating will have a molecule of common sense and make suitable provisions for such cases.
        In regard to the EPC ratings, as with many Landlords all my properties have DG windows, condensing boilers, insulated roofs, low energy bulbs – when the property is handed over – and yet, only one of them has an EPC rating of “C”, this being principally due to the properties being of stone construction! as is the case with many older “valleys” homes.
        I suggest that – as a reality check – you look on Rightmove or Zoopla at the properties shown and check their EPC ratings, you will find that there is only a minority of properties that have EPC rating of “C” or above. Isn’t it about time for those who are putting the legislation in place to realise that the majority of properties – not just those owned by private Landlords – fail to achieve an EPC rating of “C” or above and, furthermore will struggle to achieve such a rating without major expenditure.

      • Christine, you seem to have a typical tenant’s view of landlords -that they are apathetic, lazy and have deep pockets. The vast majority, like you, I’m sure, are working hard to get by. We have to take your circumstances into account so please be considerate and return the favour. We face a barrage of challenges that you are not even aware of, obviously.

  2. @Christine, I am a landlord in Scotland, and we have open ended tenancy contracts, so a tenant can stay as long as they like provided the tenant does not breach the rental agreement, only exceptions are landlord selling, landlord doing major renovation, landlord/family moving in. I agree with you on the 6 month tenancy it is not practical for a tenant.
    However you comment regarding EPCs, it is clear your are misinformed. Even if a property has roof insulation, double/triple glazing and a modern combi-boiler, all LED lights, this does not guarantee a C-rating on an EPC. The fact is the EPC in its present form is not fit for purpose and this is well known. Many many private housing, council housing, social housing and private landlord properties are not capable of meeting a C as an EPC rating, no matter what improvements are done to them. So we are going to see lots of private landlords exiting the market. If and when a mandatory C EPC rating becomes law. This will unfortunately lead to mass homelessness, as many many these properties can no longer be rented.

  3. All our properties are in Wales and we don’t have much issue with 6 months notice as it seems reasonable for a tenant to have time to plan ahead as moving is pretty stressful especially with the housing market being so competitive, or children’s schooling needs consideration.
    The details of tenants swapping in contracts may prove quite difficult but I would guess there will be procedures to follow.
    Currently however section 8 can only be served with 6 months arrears and I don’t think that’s a fair clause to put up with so we will have to be very fussy about who gets a contract with us.
    There is a lot of tinkering with words like contract holder instead of tenant but my concern is that the policy is written by a generation of civil servants who are pretty much left leaning and quite anti landlord but they are being held back by the reality that we have a real housing problem here in Wales ( not unlike the rest of the UK) and if they push too hard it’s a time bomb if even 10-15 % of landlords exit the sector. Time will tell

  4. We are poor pensioners, receiving a very low rental in Wales. We are not well paid people like Julie James and her entourage We cannot afford all this. Why oh why choose to place all these new rules on us? On the whole Wales has a much lower income from rents than England or Scotland. Why don’t we stand up to these so called people who THINK THEY KNOW BETTER THAN ANYONE ELSE? I have suggested that unity is strength and why don’t we stand up to these bullies together? I would certainly help to do so, but I cannot do this on my own.

    • Beryl you will have to persuade the Welsh voters who vote for Welsh Labour (not like the main Labour party, but much more left leaning) to vote for other parties. Good luck with that. The ‘literate’ Welsh would vote for a donkey as long as it’s a red Labour donkey.
      In other words you have a snowballs chance in hell of unseating the Welsh Labour from power.

      • I am Welsh, and Welsh speaking and proud of it. It does not mean that Julie James and her lot should rule us. We rent on respect, tenant and landlord

  5. @Christine: like other landlords posting here, we have no problem with longer notice periods and longer agreements. We recently agreed two years to suit the tenants; others asked for 15 months – fine; another wanted one year, fine. We agree an extra week or month to suit a tenant who is leaving but doesn’t want to go on an exact notice date. But it works both ways. Some tenants decide after seven months that they want to leave, for perfectly good reasons such as a new relationship or job change. Are they happy to be held to a further five months on the tenancy? Even in such circumstances, and provided the tenants have kept their side of the contract, we always understand and negotiate. I suspect this is much more likely to be the case with small portfolio landlords who take a personal interest in their tenants rather than the big anonymous corporate ones.
    As for EPCs, I reinforce @Raym’s comments. We do everything we can to make properties energy efficient, but older properties, which are extremely pleasant to occupy, will struggle to meet the proposed EPC C requirements. To get one of our flats up to C would, it is recommended, require us to insulate solid walls – in other words, put in an extra internal wall and lose several square metres of floor space in each room. Is that what tenants want? The flat already has a new efficient boiler, smart meter, low energy lighting, double glazing and is well insulated on the floor and ceiling; still a D. It does not make sense, but if we can’t meet the EPC requirements, we will sell and that will be one less attractive rental property which has been liked by every tenant who has occupied it since 2009.

    • Hi Michael, everywhere in the Western world (bar the UK), tenancies are open ended and the tenant can terminate them whenever they want (with some notice), while the landlord can’t terminate them unless they move in or the tenant breaches the tenancy agreement. So notice doesn’t (and shouldn’t in my opinion) be symmetrical, because the relationship is not symmetrical: one party is at serious risk of homelessness, while the other is at risk of missing one month of rent or being prevented from increasing rent for 2 months.

      Also the current state of affairs allows landlords to not carry out repairs, because tenants can be evicted as soon as they start complaining. The appalling state of the British housing stock compared to continental Europe’s is one of the many consequences of the current arrangements. The same goes for the very high British homelessness rate vs the European.

      On EPC requirements, if landlords can’t comply they should simply go out of business. They will sell their properties, property prices will go down and less people will have to rent. Property prices crashed in Italy and Spain, but the homelessness rate hasn’t increased.

  6. “put in an extra internal wall and lose several square metres of floor space in each room”.

    Michael – adding say 100mm (0.1m) to a 4m length (a good sized room) of internal wall insulation would only lose 0.1 x 4 = 0.4 square metres of floor space in that room – NOT several square metres in each room! No point in exaggerating. Ofcourse, it can still be tricky in small rooms but older properties tend to have larger rooms so losing a little floor space should not be a problem. Go for 50mm in smaller rooms if necessary and that will make a substantial difference to reducing heat loss whlist losing very little floor space.

  7. I think it is clear from the comments that the only survivors of the rental legislative environment going forward will be big corporations who will invest in build to rent, and social housing which will be exempt from most of the legislation anyway. It’s not the real rogue landlords who are leaving the market. It’s actually the good ones and reasonable ones, who maintain their properties, often to a better standard than their own, allow pets, house families, do not put up rents for existing tenants, carry out all repairs no matter what, choose good letting agents for their properties. These good landlords are being targeted as cash cows (and most barely make a living from it without additional income) along with the real rogues and as a result are being effectively hounded out of the market. Let’s face it a good landlord can be treated as “rogue”these days if a tenant leaves rubbish on the street and the landlord does not dispose of it at his own expense and inconvenience. This leaves the housing stock massively depleted, and a spiralling circle of more control, more legislation but higher rents and no choices for all tenants, and probably less money to boot in taxes to the Treasury. If there was some easing of the regulatory burden and risk to landlords, there would be more landlords entering the market or not leaving and tenants of all walks could then actually choose their landlords and properties again. I can’t see that happening for the foreseeable. I do feel absolutely sorry for tenants now, who despite all the legislation and control actually have less choice about the quality of the property and where and who they live with, as well as higher rents.

  8. Means that tenants will have to give 6m notice too, I’ll change my contracts, good for Goose good for Gander…..
    12m contracts are largely irrelevant for good tenants, some will stay several years anyway, it’s the bad tenants that you need to get rid off while their not paying any rent.

  9. Wales is no longer the place to be a private Landlord. We rent out 2 properties in our local area in Wales, both of which are maintained and repaired better than our own residence which is in dire need of repair. All rental monies received over the past two years have been kept beneath the market rate to secure long term Tenants, and have been swallowed up in repair costs for the Tenants’ benefit. As responsible LL’s, we exceed the requirements of Rentsmart Wales and the Housing Act.

    Once July 15th comes around, all existing AST Agreements will automatically be converted to a “Contract”. From what I am reading, the “Contract” does not allow for Notice to Quit to be issued until six months have expired, and then, it requires the LL to give the Tenant six months notice.

    Given that the AST will be automatically converted, does this then mean that as of the 15th July 2022, all ASTs in Wales will effectively become a minimum 12 month Tenancy as of that date?

    There is insufficient detail available at the moment to answer this question, so we are not taking any chances of getting stung. We have had enough and will be selling up over the next 12 months (issuing Notice to expire just before July 15 2022), evicting if necessary and getting out of the rental market.

    Our properties will no longer be available for the Tenants to live in, and they will have to find somewhere else to go. Mark my words – There will be many many many good LL’s who will do exactly like we are going to do, with the subsequent loss of many comfortable well maintained, well insulated, safe warm dry homes being withdrawn from the diminishing private rental housing stock in Wales.

  10. My two rental properties are going on the market before the legislation so now newly wed couples which is what I normally rent to will find themselves on the local authority waiting list for years whilst they live with their inlaws.

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