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What changes are expected?

The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 is introducing multiple changes in Wales, which include:

Changes to tenancies

Most current tenancies and licences (including assured shorthold, assured and secure tenancies) will be replaced by:

  • secure occupation contracts (replacing secure tenancies issued by local authorities and assured tenancies issued by Registered Social Landlords), or

  • standard occupation contracts (replacing current tenancies used in the private rented sector, ie by private landlords)

Under the Act, tenants will be known as ‘contract holders’.

Changes to types of landlords

There will only be two groups of landlords:

  • community landlords (council and housing associations), and

  • private landlords (any landlord who is not a community landlord).

Community landlords will generally provide secure occupation contracts while private landlords will generally provide standard occupation contracts.

Changes to tenancy terms

New standard terms will be introduced under the Act. These standard terms must be included in every occupation contract.

Further, landlords will have to issue contract holders with a ‘written statement’ within 14 days of moving in. The written statement must clearly set out the respective rights and responsibilities of the landlord and the contract holder. Failure to provide such a written statement (in the required time frame) or the provision of an incomplete or incorrect statement can result in penalties.

In other words, the written statement sets out and confirms the terms of the contract. The written statement must contain all necessary contractual terms, including:

  • key matters (eg names of the parties and address of the property)

  • fundamental terms (ie terms covering the most important aspects of the contract, including the possession procedures and the landlord’s obligations regarding repair)

  • supplementary terms (which deal with the more practical, day-to-day matters applying to the contract, eg the requirement to notify the landlord if the property is going to be unoccupied for 4 weeks or more)

  • additional terms (which address any other specifically agreed matters, eg a term that relates to the keeping of pets)

  • terms explaining the meaning and importance of the contract

The contracts can always be issued in hardcopy. They can now only be issued electronically if the contract holder agrees.

Changes to how tenancies can be ended

Under the Act, the rules on how landlords can end a contract are changing, with the main changes including:

  • the notice period required from a landlord under ‘no fault’ grounds (currently commonly known as a ‘section 21 notice’) will be 6 months (the new notice will be a ‘Section 173 notice’)

  • the landlord not being able to give a no fault eviction notice until 6 months after the start of the contract

  • the landlord not being able to give a no fault eviction notice unless they have complied with certain requirements (eg registration, health and safety provisions, licensing, and deposit protection rules)

  • if the landlord has served a no fault eviction notice but has not acted upon it, they cannot issue a new notice until 6 months after the expiry of the previous notice

  • if a tenant does not leave at the end of a contract’s fixed term (and the landlord does not take steps to evict them), the contract will usually automatically become a periodic standard contract and the landlord will have to serve a 6-month section 173 notice to end the contract

  • landlord break clauses (ie clauses allowing the landlord to end a tenancy before the end of the fixed term) will only be allowed in a contract if the contract is for more than 2 years. Further, landlords will not be able to rely on a break clause within the first 18 months of a tenancy

For more information, read Repossessing property in Wales.

Changes to requirements for repairs and the condition of rented properties

All rented properties must be fit for human habitation at the start of and during the length of a contract. This will be based on the existing Housing Health and Safety Rating System.

The Renting Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) (Wales) Regulations 2022 set out 29 matters and circumstances that must be considered when determining whether a property is fit for human habitation. These 29 matters and circumstances include, but are not limited to:

  • damp and mould growth (including house dust mites and mould or fungal growth)

  • the cold (ie when temperatures fall below the minimum satisfactory levels for relatively long periods)

  • asbestos fibres and Manufactured Mineral Fibres (MFF), which include rockwool and glass fibre blankets

  • crowding and space

Landlords must also maintain the structure and exterior of the property, keep it in good repair, and keep installations for the supply of water, gas, or electricity, for sanitation, for space heating, and for hot water in repair and proper working order.

Retaliatory eviction

Contract holders will be protected from ‘retaliatory’ or ‘revenge’ evictions. These occur when a landlord tries to evict a contract holder who has asked for repairs or complained about the condition of their home. 

Under the Act, if a landlord responds to a request for repair by issuing a possession (ie eviction) notice, a landlord will no longer be automatically entitled to possession if the courts are satisfied that the landlord issued the notice to avoid carrying out the repair. If a landlord’s application is refused on the grounds that it was a retaliatory eviction, they will not be able to serve a new no-fault eviction notice until 6 months later. For more information, read Retaliatory eviction.

Joint contracts

Under the Act, contract holders can be added or removed from contracts without the need to end the contract and start another. This means when a joint contract holder moves out the contract doesn’t need to end for the remaining joint contract holders; new joint contract holders can then be added to the existing contract.

It is expected that this will make managing joint contracts easier and help victims of domestic violence by enabling the perpetrator to be targeted for eviction.

Succession rights

The Act will provide enhanced succession rights, making it easier for certain people (including some carers) to take over a person’s contract after their death (this is known as ‘succession’). 

Under these enhanced succession rights, both priority and reserve successors can take over the contract of a deceased individual. 

A priority successor is the spouse (or civil partner) of the contract holder, someone who lived together with the contract holder as if they were spouses (or civil partners), or someone who occupied the property as their only or main home at the time of the contract holder’s death.

A reserve successor is someone who is a family member of the contract holder, who occupied the property as their only or main home at the time of the contract holder’s death, and who meets the basic residence condition (ie throughout the 12 months before the contract holder’s death they either occupied the property or lived with the contract holder). 

A reserve successor can also be someone who: 

  • at any time in the 12 months before the contract holder’s death was a carer in relation to the contract holder or a member of the contract holder’s family (who, at the time the care was provided, lived with the contract holder)

  • occupied the property as their only or main home at the time of the contract holder’s death, and

  • meets the carer residence conditions, which entails:

    • meeting the basic residence condition (ie throughout the 12 months before the contract holder’s death they either occupied the property or lived with the contract holder), and

    • there being no other property which the carer is entitled to occupy as a home at the time of the contract holder’s death


The Act introduces a new process for landlords to regain possession of a property that has been abandoned (ie if a contract holder leaves the property before the contract has ended, usually without letting the landlord know).

Landlords will be able to repossess an abandoned property without a court order, provided they have served a four-week warning notice and carried out investigations to satisfy themselves that the property is in fact abandoned. 

What does this mean for landlords?

The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 drastically changes renting in Wales for landlords and landlords will need to make sure they comply with all the necessary changes. This will involve:

  • updating tenancy agreements to comply with the new secure and standard occupation contract requirements

  • complying with the requirements on key terms to be included in the new contracts

  • being aware of the new no-fault eviction notices (and the notice periods they entail)

  • ensuring rental property is fit for human habitation and kept in good repair

  • making sure not to evict contract holders who complain about the state of repair in their property

  • understanding the new laws on joint contract holders

  • honouring any succession rights if a contract holder dies

  • understanding the new procedure for recovering abandoned property

For more information, read the Welsh government’s guidance.

 What does this mean for contract holders (ie tenants)?

As for landlords, the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 drastically changes renting in Wales for tenants (who are now also known as ‘contract holders’). They should be aware of the changes and their rights under the law, which include:

  • tenancy agreements becoming either secure or standard occupation contracts, which must include certain key terms and must be provided in a specified time frame

  • greater security attached to renting (eg the no-fault eviction process changing, entitling them to at least 6 months’ notice, which can only be served at certain points during the tenancy)

  • being entitled to have a home that is fit for human habitation and in a good state of repair

  • being protected from eviction by landlords if the contract holder has complained about the state of their property and asked for repairs to be carried out

  • being able to remain in the property if they are joint contract holders and not all joint contract holders wish to move out (or, conversely, being able to move out of a property if none of the other contract holders wishes to leave) without the need for a new contract

  • greater succession rights allowing certain people (eg a contract holder’s spouse) to remain in the property after the contract holder’s death

For more information, read the Welsh government’s guidance.

For more information on these changes in general, read Residential tenancies in Wales and Occupation contracts in Wales. Remember to Ask a lawyer if you have any questions or concerns.

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