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Repossessing property in Wales

This information only applies in Wales.

At some point, many landlords will need to repossess their property, either due to problems with contract holders or simply because they wish to sell or move back in. Wales has slightly different repossession processes to England and the rest of the UK. When the correct processes are followed, eviction can be straightforward.

Last updated 9 November 2022.

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Residential property law in Wales is now largely governed by the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 (‘the Act’). Since the Act came into force on 1 December 2022, most private residential tenancies in Wales have been held as standard occupation contracts. Occupation contracts can be created to grant the contract holder the right to occupy a property for either a fixed term or on a periodic basis (eg from week to week or month to month). 

There are various options available for landlords looking to end a fixed-term or periodic occupation contract. The information below sets out how standard occupation contracts can be ended so that landlords can repossess their property.

ord to end applicable contracts on or after the end of the fixed term simply by giving notice (ie no fault is required on the contract holder’s part). Contracts within this category include those: 

  • that would not be an occupation contract but for notice given by the landlord that the contract is to be an occupation contract (eg a lodger agreement or holiday let)

  • for supported accommodation

  • for accommodation for asylum seekers or homeless persons

  • for service accommodation (ie where certain types of employees must live as a requirement of their job)

  • for, in certain situations, temporary accommodation

Eligible contracts can be ended by the landlord serving the contract holder notice under section 186, which must give at least 2 months’ notice of the contract ending. Notice should be served before or on the last day of the fixed term (ie not once it’s converted into a periodic occupation contract. At this point one of the options for ending a periodic occupation contract should be used). If the contract holder doesn’t leave by the expiry of the notice and all conditions have been followed, the landlord can apply to the courts for an order of possession that they should grant.

A periodic standard occupation contract may be periodic from the outset or it may be created automatically at the end of a fixed-term occupation contract. Landlords can evict holders of periodic occupation contracts either: 

  • by agreement - if the landlord and contract holder agree to end the contract, it can end by surrender

  • using a ‘no fault’ eviction notice

  • by serving  a notice under section 182 of the Act, if the contract holder is in serious rent arrears. This operates in a very similar manner to eviction for serious rent arrears for a fixed-term contract under section 188

  • by serving notice under section 159 of the Act for breach of contract, in the same manner as for a fixed-term occupation contract

  • under estate management grounds, in the same manner as for a fixed-term occupation contract

No fault eviction

A landlord can end a periodic occupation contract for any reason (ie even if there’s ‘no fault’ on the contract holder’s part) if they: 

  • give at least 6 months’ notice of the end of the contract (unless an exception applies, for example, for supported accommodation or university accommodation, in which case 2 months’ notice may be adequate)

  • do not serve the notice within the first 6 months of the occupation contract (unless an exception applies, for example, if a contract would not be an occupation contract but for the notice given by the landlord that the contract is to be an occupation contract, like a lodger agreement), and

  • have not breached one of the statutory obligations of a landlord (eg the requirement to provide a written statement of the occupation contract’s terms at the start of the tenancy or not to charge any prohibited fees

If all of the above apply, the landlord can serve notice under section 173 of the Act. If the contract holder does not leave at the expiry of the notice period, the landlord can seek a court order for possession which, unless a human rights defence applies, should be granted. 

Ask a lawyer if you have any questions about ending a periodic occupation contract.

Under the Housing (Wales) Act 2014, all landlords renting properties in Wales must register with Rent Smart Wales. Rent Smart Wales is the licensing authority which processes landlord registrations and grants licences to landlords and their agents. Landlords who have not registered with Rent Smart Wales - or who do not have a valid licence - are unable to use some eviction methods. These include section 173 notices (ie no fault eviction notices) and landlords’ break clauses.

Where appropriate, the first step should be a discussion between the landlord and the contract holder. Informing the contract holder in person or over the phone of your intentions is respectful and can facilitate a smoother, more communicative eviction process. A surrender of the occupation contract could be negotiated at this stage. 

The first formal step is serving an appropriate eviction notice. This must give an appropriate notice period before the intended end of the occupation contract and must abide by the rules for the eviction option chosen. 

Proof of service should be retained, either by filling out a certification of service form (N215) or by writing 'served by [name of landlord] on [date]' on the notice and keeping a copy. If the contract holder has not vacated by the end of the notice period, the landlord can apply to the court for an order of possession. Whether or not the courts will grant a possession order depends on the rules for the type of eviction notice in question. Some types of notice require the courts to grant an order if conditions are met and no exceptions apply. Others allow the courts to grant an order if they consider it reasonable to do so in the circumstances. If a notice has been served invalidly (eg because the landlord has breached a statutory obligation or an inadequate notice period was given), the courts will not grant a possession order. 

A possession order tells the contract holder to leave the property by a specific date. If they do not do so, the landlord can begin the process of repossessing the property using a bailiff. For more information on the court and repossession process, read the Government’s guidance

Ask a lawyer if you need more information on court proceedings and possession orders.

Certain types of eviction notices (ie those that specify so above, eg landlords’ break clauses or no fault eviction notices) will be invalid if the landlord has breached a landlord’s statutory obligation. Examples of such breaches include: 

It is very important to determine that the contract holder has definitely abandoned the property (eg they haven’t just gone on an extended holiday), otherwise, the landlord may be unlawfully evicting them if they repossess the property using the abandonment process. The landlord must give 4 weeks’ notice to the contract holder of the property as per section 220 of the Act. For more information on repossessing abandoned property, read Tenant abandonment.

The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 came into effect on 1 December 2022. The rules above apply to new occupation contracts created after this date. Existing tenancies that were converted into occupation contracts on this date should generally also follow the rules above, but may in some instances still be able to use aspects of the old law. For instance: 

  • converted (ie signed before 1 December) periodic contracts can be ended using the section 173 no fault procedure with a 2-month notice period. Converted fixed-term contracts that automatically become periodic contracts at the end of their fixed term (ie after 1 December) must use the new 6-month minimum notice period for no fault eviction 

  • converted fixed-term contracts (ie eligible contracts that were fixed-term tenancies or licences before 1 December) that can’t be ended using section 186 of the Act can be ended by giving at least 2 months’ notice. The notice must end on or after the last day of the fixed term and must be served on or before the last day of the fixed term. It cannot be served within the first 6 months of the contract

  • if section 21 proceedings (the previous no fault eviction notice system, which still applies in England) were started before 1 December, they can be continued

Secure occupation contracts grant contract holders stronger occupancy rights. Consequently, fewer options are available for landlords to end them. Secure occupation contracts can be ended by a landlord: 

  • by serving notice under section 157 of the Act for breach of contract, in the same manner as for a fixed term occupation contract

  • under estate management grounds, in the same manner as for a fixed term occupation contract

  • by seeking a possession order if the contract holder gives notice to end their tenancy but then doesn’t leave when they say they will

For more information on ending a secure occupation contract, Ask a lawyer

Make your Section 173 notice for Wales
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