The Welsh government has announced a five-and-a-half-month delay to the introduction of its controversial Renting Homes Act which had been due to go live on 15th July this year.
Now postponed until 1st December, housing minister Julie James says the delay has been announced after representations from both private and social landlords.
The act will bring in huge changes to the way landlords can evict tenants, issue tenancy contracts, and manage their properties.
This includes a six-month notice requirement for a landlord to end a contract where the tenant is not at fault, a minimum '�security of tenure'� of one year from the date of moving in and tighter rules on so-called retaliatory evictions and easier management of joint tenancies.
The act also ushers in a whole new terminology for landlords to grapple with including contract holder (not tenants or licencees) and occupation contracts or standard contracts (replacing ASTs).
Landlord properties must also pass the minimum fit for human habitation (FFHH) test including ensuring that electrical safety testing and ensuring working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are fitted.
Also, abandoned properties can be repossessed without needing a court order.
But landlords have told James that they need more time to prepare for these changes after the long slog of Covid and the ongoing job of helping house Ukrainian refugees.
'Wholesale reform of the type that the Renting Homes (Wales) Act is bringing about happens only very rarely - perhaps once in a generation,'� says James.
'I want to do all I can to ensure landlords have adequate time to make the necessary preparations to comply with the requirements of the Act.'�
The minister adds that she appreciates that this delay will be a source of '�frustration'� to some of the government'�s partners, 'especially those who are anxious to see the enhanced protections for tenants the Act will deliver'�, she says.
'I share those frustrations, but I recognise that preparing new occupation contracts and ensuring that properties meet the fitness standards set out in the legislation are major undertakings, particularly for those landlords responsible for a large number of properties and tenants.
'I also accept that landlords from both private and public sectors, as well as letting agents and other stakeholders, would benefit from additional time to familiarise themselves with the various pieces of subordinate legislation '� the final tranche of which are due to be made in July '� before commencement.'�
Ben Beadle (pictured), Chief Executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, says: 'The NRLA had warned for some time that the Welsh Government'�s timetable for implementation of the Renting Homes (Wales) Act was unrealistic and provided insufficient time for landlords to prepare. It is reassuring that landlords'� concerns have been heeded, albeit late in the day.
'We welcome the announcement that implementation will be postponed until 1 December 2022. This will give the Government time to consider the many issues raised by private and social landlords ahead of these major changes coming into force.'�
The Welsh government has launched a dedicated website for landlords about the new rules.