Landlords must ensure they amend the Welsh government's model tenancy agreements or risk eroding their rights, warns a leading property lawyer.
Following the introduction of the Renting Homes (Wales) Act, the government produced a model agreement to help landlords cope with the switch to the new written statement of 'occupation contracts'.
However, Tessa Shepperson (pictured), a solicitor who runs Landlord Law, says failing to include additional terms such as not automatically being allowed a pet, making rent payable in advance, or being able to make deductions from a deposit could land them in hot water.
One positive thing about the new, but extremely complex, legislation is a new abandonment procedure. 'However, the right to use this is conditional upon the contract requiring contract holders to live in the property as their only or principal home,'� she tells LandlordZONE.
'This wording doesn't appear in the model contracts - landlords need to include these clauses to protect themselves.'�
Another positive for landlords is that, if they increase rent in a periodic contract using the notice procedure, contract holders no longer have the right to refer this to the First Tier Tribunal for review.
They do need to give contract holders a copy of the agreement within two weeks of the occupation date or face a penalty of up to two months' rent.
'Some government officials are saying that a new occupation contract doesn't need to be given to the contract holder in advance, so long as it is provided within 14 days of contract holders moving in,'� adds Shepperson.
'This protects them from being liable for the penalty, however contract terms are only enforceable if people agree to them in advance.
If the contract is served late, the prescribed terms will all apply but not any '�additional terms' added by the landlord, as the contract holders can't be bound by something they haven't seen before the contract is made - and by the time they have moved in it will be too late.
"Landlords must always ensure that contracts are signed by contract holders before they move in.'�