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| 3 minutes read

Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016: Where are we now?

This article is part of our Housing Management & Property Litigation Brief - Wales: Issue 4.

It has been almost one year since the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 (“the Act”) was implemented. Within this article, we look back on some of the changes introduced by the Act and the impact they have had on housing management practices.

The Act was implemented on 1 December 2022 and brought the biggest change to housing law in Wales for decades. With it came written statements of occupation contracts and the mammoth task of landlords issuing contract holders with written statements of converted occupation contracts by 31 May 2023. This involved a detailed review of existing tenancy agreements and checking whether the terms set out were compatible with the terms of a model written statement. It soon become apparent that this wasn’t a simple process, and it remains that statement terms are likely to be open to challenge in the future. We are likely to see test cases, providing clarification from senior courts.

The Act introduced a requirement for homes to be fit for human habitation with reference to 29 matters or circumstances to which regard must be had when determining whether a property is fit for human habitation. These matters and circumstances are set out within the Renting Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) (Wales) Regulations 2022 (“the Regulations”). They include damp and mould growth and as a result, a landlord may be required to improve ventilation and extraction. We are continuing to see housing conditions claims being brought by contact holders with a large majority of these featuring issues with damp and mould. It is likely that this will continue and therefore, strong engagement with contract holders to tackle issues relating to damp and mould is crucial.

In addition to the above, the Regulations place specific requirements on landlords to help prevent certain matters and circumstances arising. Where a landlord fails to comply with these requirements, the property is to be treated as if it were unfit for human habitation. The three requirements imposed on landlords are:

  1. Ensuring the presence of smoke alarms in proper working order.
  2. Ensuring the presence of carbon monoxide detectors in proper working order.
  3. Ensuring the inspection and testing of the electrical installations.

Requirement two applies to all occupation contracts. Requirements one and three apply to all new occupation contractors now and to converted occupation contractors following twelve months from the date of conversion. Therefore, landlords should be considering requirements now and ensuring the presence of smoke alarms in proper working order, and inspection and testing of electrical installations, prior to 1 December 2023.

The Act drastically changed grounds for possession, with mandatory grounds no longer being available for secure contract holders. The ability for community landlords (largely local authorities and RSLs) to seek mandatory possession against secure contract holders for serious rent arrears and anti-social behaviour, as previously available, were removed. Community landlords can mostly now only seek possession where there is a breach of contract or on an estate management ground. These are discretionary grounds, and it must be found reasonable to make a possession order. In addition, where possession is sought on an estate management ground, the court must be satisfied that there is suitable alternative accommodation available to the contract holder. In some standard contract cases, a landlord can seek possession due to serious rent arrears or by service of a landlord’s no fault notice. In any matter, where possession is sought, it is important that the correct notice period is given to the contract holder and that the correct form of notice is being used. Landlords can find these various forms of notice on the Welsh Government’s website and should ensure that they are being used.

Whilst there is no longer an ability to seek mandatory possession due to serious anti-social behaviour by a secure contract holder, landlords are reminded that there remains the ability to seek an injunction order against an individual pursuant to the Anti-social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014. Such injunction order may prohibit conduct or place positive requirements on an individual, with the intention of preventing anti-social behaviour. Where the individual has used or threatened violence, or if there is a significant risk of harm to others, a power of arrest may be attached to an injunction order. Such proceedings can be a useful tool to provide protection to neighbouring residents and staff where a notice of possession has been served or possession proceedings are ongoing.

For more information or assistance, please do get in touch.

Click here to read issue 4 of our Housing Management & Property Litigation Brief - Wales edition.


housing management & property litigation, housing management & property litigation brief, hmpl brief