10 Eastgate, Aberystwyth, SY23 2AR
10 Eastgate, Aberystwyth, SY23 2AR
estate agents

When reading sites like Rent Smart Wales, gov.uk, Welsh Government, etc, it can be overwhelming and difficult to understand as everyone explains it too technical and complex. I did a lot of research myself, as well as seeking legal advice from our trusted property solicitors, and I feel I have come to a clearer understanding. Especially with working in the letting’s industry, it has enabled me to apply it in the real world and on-the-job. However, it also means that we get asked a lot of questions and see the difficulty in comprehending for both landlords and tenants.  

In my opinion, the Welsh Government site has been the simplest and easiest read for understanding the Renting Homes Act 2022. I have linked it here. They have broken some of it down into questions – and these questions are the ones that are getting asked every day in agencies. I thought I would use these questions (as well as my own) and answer them myself in a way that is less formal and complex, but more practical and thorough.  

“Who is affected by the new law?”  

We get this question a lot – landlords ringing to ask if this will affect them in any way. This act is going to affect both tenants and landlords. Tenants will see differences in their home so that it meets the needs of habitation (i.e., alarms being installed, certificates being completed), as well as updates in their current contracts. Landlords will see differences in what is expected of rentals in Wales mainly focusing on the smoke alarms and CO detectors as well as the electrical installation reports.  

“What differences are there with the tenancy agreements?” 

One main difference is that it will not be called a tenancy agreement, it is now called an occupational contract. There are other definitions within the contract that are now different too, i.e., tenants are now known as contract-holders. Standard contracts are the ones you will see the most of as they are used in the private rented sector, and then secure contracts are used by local authorities. All current tenancies that are set up prior to 1st December 2022 will automatically update to occupational contracts so there is nothing for landlords or agencies to do here. However, for all new tenancies set up on or after 1st December 2022, they will need to be issued occupational contracts.  

“Do I need to make any changes to my house?” 

All rentals will need to be fit for human habitation (FFHH). I have found that with most of our houses we rent, they are all FFHH already. To be FFHH, smoke alarms need to be mains interlinked with one located on each storey in the hallways, as well as CO detectors will need to be installed above any solid fuel appliance (i.e., log burner or gas stove) and boiler – these can be battery operated. Also, electrical installation reports will need to be completed – you would need to ask your electrician to do this. If the property is not FFHH, then tenants will not be liable to pay rent, although if tenants do not inform landlords of their concerns, then they will still be liable to pay. 

“What are the changes in notice periods?” 

 The leading factor for these regulation changes is to provide greater security for tenants/contract-holders. Due to this, they have increased the notice period for a Section 21 (now known as a Section 173 notice) which is a ‘no-fault’ notice. This has increased from 2 months to 6 months. However, for any tenancies that are set up before 1st December 2022, the 2 months' notice period will still apply. A section 173 cannot be issued until 6 months after the tenant has started their contract, and if the landlord does not act on this notice by gaining possession of the property, then they will not be able to issue another one for a further 6 months! 

Also, I wanted to add about the section 173 notice that you cannot serve this if a tenant has been complaining about the state of the property.  

There are also a couple other points that are generally forgotten or not asked. 

  • Abandonment: Landlords are now able to repossess their property without having to go through court (a 4-week warning notice is still required) 
  • Joint contracts: A joint-contract holder can withdraw from the contract at any time (even within a fixed term) without completely ending the contract, and vice-versa; new joint contract-holders can be added into a contract without having to start a new one 
  • Succession rights: If a contract-holder dies, their successor is able to take on the occupation contract 

In this difficult and changing time, I am more than happy to help with anyone that is struggling to understand these regulations. Or even if anyone was wondering if their house was FFHH, let me know and I'd be happy to help!