How the New Renting Homes Act Affects You
The new Renting Homes Act has been a long time in the making and is a great step forward for all tenants, landlords, and housing associations across Wales. The new and improved Renting Homes Act is set to make renting in Wales fairer and ensure better living conditions.
But there is a lot more to cover on the new Renting Homes Act; we spoke with our Housing Manager, Carol Tough,and below you will find more on what the new act entails, how it will affect tenants and landlords, and how Linc is supporting our tenants during this transition period.
- What is the Renting Homes Act?
- How does this Affect Tenants?
- How does this Affect Landlords?
- How Linc Cymru Is Supporting Tenants
- The Next Steps
1. What is the Renting Homes Act?
The original Renting Homes Act (2016) aimed to reform the way in which properties are let in the private and public sectors throughout Wales. The act wanted to focus on making the renting process simpler and easier to understand for tenant flexibility and transparency.
However, the old Renting Homes Act still did not manage to remove all uncertainties and complexities despite the improvement. Carol explained, “The reason the Act was brought in by the Welsh government was because there are lots of different pieces of housing legislation. So, they want a clear, simplified legal framework which is applicable to both the private sector and the social housing sector.”
Therefore, the new and improved Renting Homes Act (2022) will definitively change the way in which all landlords in Wales rent out their properties, improving how we rent, manage, and live in rented homes.
The change was set to take place from July 15th 2022, but has been deferred until December 2022 by the Welsh Government; however, some tenants should still expect their new contracts to arrive from July. The new Renting Homes Act is said to be the biggest housing law change to occur in Wales in decades. It will affect both tenants and landlords with the simplification of contract agreements, improve the living conditions of all rented homes in Wales, and offer a better sense of security to tenants.
Some of the changes to the new Renting Homes Act includes tenants being called ‘contract-holders’ instead of being referred to as tenants, and tenancy agreements will be called ‘occupation contracts’ instead. Another change is the types of occupation contracts on offer, which includes the ‘secure contract’ which replaces secure and assured tenancies, and the new ‘standard contract’ will mostly be used in the private rented sector.
2. How does this affect Tenants?
There are a few changes that come with the new Renting Homes Act that will benefit tenants across all of Wales. The first change to note is that tenants will become ‘contract-holders’ instead of being referred to as tenants, and tenancy agreements will be called ‘occupation contracts’ instead.
Some other changes for contract-holders include the following:
Fitness For Human Habitation
Fitness For Human Habitation (FFHH) will ensure that every rented home is fit for human habitation and must uphold these living conditions throughout the contract. Maintaining these standards will include electrical safety testing and ensuring working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are fitted.
As well as ensuring health and safety the new act allows contract-holders the right to not pay rent for the duration that the rented property is in breach of the FFHH. However, you should discuss and raise the issue with your landlord first, and if a dispute arises, then it is up to the court if the landlord has complied with FFHH or not.
Firstly, the notice period has changed from two to six months if the contract has not been breached, and secondly, a ‘no fault’ notice cannot be issued until up to six months after the contract-holders move in date. Your landlord will also not be able to serve you an eviction notice if you have complained about the property, the court must be satisfied with the reasoning for the eviction.
There are also benefits for joint contract-holders where a contract-holder can be more easily removed or added to the contract, ensuring to help those experiencing domestic abuse so the abuser can be targeted with an eviction notice.
Finally, there will be improved succession rights that will also ensure that in the event a contract-holder or joint contract-holders die, family members, partners, and carers will have the right of succession to the property as a priority.
Housing manager, Carol, concluded that “For our customers, I don’t think it’s going to have a massive impact; there are elements within the Act which will enhance services for them.”
Carol continued, “So they’ll have an extra month’s notice if we’re increasing the rent, the mandatory ground for serious re-entry is being removed so there’s a bit of extra security there. If they want to become joint tenants or go from joint tenants to sole tenants, there’s more flexibility and less red tape. There are a number of features that make things easier on tenants and place more obligation on landlords, all resulting in a better service for our tenants.”
For more information on how the new Renting Homes Act will affect tenants visit the government website.
3. How does this affect Landlords?
Landlords both in the private sector and social housing sector will have new rules and regulations to follow just like the tenants, and in doing so this creates a fairer and more flexible renting process.
Carol began by highlighting that the new Renting Homes Act will “be a more positive impact on private renting tenants because there’s a lot more being imposed on private landlords than there ever has been before, and a lot more compliance in terms of health and safety and Fitness for Human Habitation.”
The new Act will ensure a high standard of living in all rented homes across Wales and reinstate fairer and simpler renting legislations. But to get to this stage landlords throughout Wales, both in the private sector and the social housing sector alike have a lot of work to do.
Carol elaborated, “We’re busy trying to get all the carbon monoxide alarms fitted, we’ve already got programmes in place for the electrical certificates and the smoke alarms. We’re using the timeframe to make sure they’re all interlinked and hardwired, which is a new requirement.”
Linc want to ensure a smooth and easy transition for our customers, and Carol explained that this includes changing procedures and processes to accommodate for the changes in the Renting Homes Act. Our dynamic systems and tenancy record systems are going through lots of IT changes to accommodate the changes and continue to improve the way in which we track activity and actions.
To help with the influx of changes occurring, Linc holds regular meetings to check off actions against target dates to make sure that we’re moving along at the pace that we anticipated.
For more information on how the new Renting Homes Act will affect landlords visit the government website.
4. How Linc is supporting Tenants
At Linc, we always want to ensure our customers are put first and feel respected, involved, and heard, especially when there are so many fantastic changes being brought about by the new Act.
Carol said, “Firstly we’ve put information markers on our system, so if someone doesn’t have English as their first language, or they have mental health illnesses, or if their sight is impaired, we’ve got a list of those on the system.”
Carol continued by explaining, “So what we’ll do is when we’re delivering the new contracts for existing tenants, we’ll flag those and the neighbourhood officers will go out and offer to sit down and run through the changes with people so they’re not just relying on the website or the post, they’ll go out and eliminate any fears and have a question and answer session.”
5. The Next Steps
The new Renting Homes Act is going to be put in place to secure the rights and safety of tenants in Wales and this is going to be a big change for both the private sector and the social housing sector. If you’re a tenant reading this, you may be wondering “what are the next steps?”
Well, Carol explains that “In terms of the contracts, tenants don’t need to do anything because they will be sent their new contracts. They don’t need to sign anything, so I think for tenants they just need to be aware of what’s happening, why it’s happening, and how it affects them, so any key changes they need to be aware of those.”
Once the new Act is in place and all the work has been completed on the landlords’ side, contracts, legislations, and tenant rights will be a lot easier for everyone to understand and the positive impact this will have on tenants will be beneficial, but also much needed as we come out of a time of great uncertainty. Carol concluded that the Renting Homes Act has been put in place “To increase security, to encourage more responsible letting, and to make sure tenants receive good services and living in properties that are fit.”
For more information on the new Renting Homes Act and how Linc Cymru will support our tenants get in touch for a chat.