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New rights for tenants as Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 comes into force

One of the biggest changes in the social and private rented housing sectors will be introduced in December with the implementation of the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016.

The Act comes into force on December 1, 2022 and will apply to councils, housing associations, supported housing and private accommodation and has major implications, including giving greater security to tenants and placing new responsibilities on landlords.

Cardiff Council’s Cabinet will discuss the implications of the new Act for the Council at their meeting on Thursday, October 20 and are recommended to approve the proposed approach to implementing the changes required, including the introduction of new ‘occupation contracts’ for all council tenants and changes to procedures to comply with the new legislation.

They include:

  • Renaming local authorities and registered social landlords as ‘community landlords’, and tenants as ‘contract holders’
  • Ensuring contract holders are entitled to two months’ notice of any rent increase
  • Giving contract holders enhanced succession rights. Under the new legislation, up to two successions will be allowed
  • Extending rights to joint tenants who will be able to leave a property without ending a contract and new tenants added if, for example, a relationship breaks down and one partner leaves the property
  • Giving councils the power to repossess an abandoned property without a court order
  • Introducing a repair standard that sets out how to determine if a property is fit for human habitation

In the private rented sector, which plays a significant role in the council’s housing strategy to improve access to affordable homes, landlords will now have to give their contract holders six months’ notice of eviction. But this notice cannot be served within the first six months of the contract, effectively meaning a contract holder who does not breach the contract can live securely for 12 months.

The report on the new Act acknowledges that some private landlords might be prompted to leave the rental market because of the new measures. To counter any further loss of such accommodation and the consequent impact on homelessness services, support is being provided to private landlords to help them to understand and adapt to the requirements of the new Act. One way that the council is seeking to support landlords is by offering to lease their properties and take over the often complex management issues related to renting a property.

Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities, Cllr Lynda Thorne, said: “The new Act means considerable changes to the way the Council, as a community landlord, lets and manages its properties.

“We take our responsibilities as landlords very seriously and welcome the changes introduced by the legislation.

“We also recognise the major role private landlords play in providing housing and alleviating homelessness in the city and have developed a range of initiatives to encourage landlords to stay in the market and offer their properties for use by homeless clients or others in housing need.”

To further support private landlords, Cardiff Council is delivering the Welsh Government Leasing Scheme. This Scheme provides a full tenancy management and repair service provided by Cardiff Council, which can include support from our own services including as rent collection, tenancy management, Housing Support, repairs and anti-social behaviour. The Scheme provides the landlord with a guaranteed rental income whether the property is occupied or not. A £5,000 renovation grant is available to improve the property, in exchange for a lease of at least five years to the Council.