Residential lettings: Wales plans for greater tenant protection

Residential lettings: Wales plans for greater tenant protection

The Renting Homes (Amendment) (Wales) Act 2021 received Royal Assent on 7 April 2021. It amends the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 by increasing occupiers’ security of tenure under standard occupation contracts (the future Welsh equivalent of the Assured Shorthold Tenancy).

Unusually, the Welsh Government has amended the 2016 Act prior to it coming into force. The implementation date for the bulk of the 2016 Act, and the new occupation contract regime it creates, is now expected to be sometime in spring 2022.

Periodic standard contracts

The amendments:

  • extend the minimum notice period for a notice given under section 173 (akin to a ‘no-fault’ section 21 notice under the Housing Act 1988) from two months to six months;
  • prevent landlords from issuing such a notice until six months after the start date (the 2016 Act originally set this at four months);
  • remove a landlord’s ability to serve a section 173 notice until six months after the expiry of any previous section 173 notice, to prevent landlords from issuing a section 173 notice ‘just in case’ they wish to use it;

Taken together, the amendments provide occupiers with a minimum 12 month contract (it was originally six) and at least six months to find a new home (rather than two).

Occupiers will be entitled to end the contract by giving at least four weeks written notice.

Fixed term standard contracts

The amendments:

  • remove a landlord’s ability to issue a notice to end the contract at the expiry of the fixed term, during the term of the fixed term standard contract itself;
  • prohibit landlords’ break clauses in fixed term standard contracts of less than 24 months; prevent the activation of any break clause until at least month 18 of a fixed term contract, and set the notice period under a landlord’s break clause at six months.

This means that where a fixed term contract is less than 24 months’ duration, or there

is no break clause, the landlord will have to wait for the occupation contract to become periodic at the end of the fixed term before they can serve six months’ notice under section 173.

Breach of contract

Whilst the notice periods landlords have to give in the case of “no fault evictions” will now be longer, they will still be able to seek to repossess their property on short notice if the occupier is in breach of contract.

This article is for information purposes only and is not a substitute for legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Please contact Josie Edwards or Annie Akhtar to discuss any issues you are facing.