The RLA has formally responded to a consultation which was run by the Welsh Government, on the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 – regulations relating to Supplementary Provisions.
To hear more about the Renting Homes Act, come along to our Future Renting Wales conference next week and hear from a range of property experts about the key issues that will impact your lettings over the next few months and years.
What was the Welsh Government consulting on?
According to the Welsh Government, the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 (‘the Act’) will make it simpler and easier to rent a home in Wales, because it replaces various and complex pieces of existing legislation with one clear legal framework.
New occupation contracts-background information
As part of the Act, the Welsh Government is proposing to introduce new ‘occupation contracts’. These contracts would REPLACE current residential tenancies and licences, and the Welsh Government say this would make the rights and obligations of the landlord and the contract-holder clearer.
Under section 31 of the Act, the landlord would provide a ‘written statement’ of the occupation contract to the tenant or licensee (which the Act refers to as the contract holder)
The terms of the occupation contract for the dwelling being rented would be set out in this written statement, and a landlord would be required to provide a written statement of the contract to the contract-holder no later than 14 days after occupation.
Different types of contracts
There are two principle types of occupation contract. These are:
- Secure contracts – modelled on the current secure tenancy issued by local authorities. This will be the default contract issued by community landlords (housing associations and local authorities).
- Standard contracts – modelled on the current assured shorthold tenancy. These are the default contract issued by private landlords.
As part of the consultation document on the Welsh Government’s website, a table has been put together to demonstrate which part of the draft Renting Homes (Supplementary Provisions) (Wales) Regulations apply to which contract.
The RLA’s response to the consultation
In the RLA’s response to the above consultation, which you can read here we state that we support the Welsh Government’s initiative to incorporate the numerous laws relating to occupational contracts in the rented sector to one legal framework.
We agree with many of the supplementary provisions contained in the Regulations relating to periodic standard contracts and fixed-term standard contracts, as many of these echo what is already standardized within the industry.
Pets, energy bills and abandonment
However, we have made a number of comments and recommendations which we feel would allow for a uniformed approach to secure and standard contracts in the sector.
Specifically, we have made recommendations around pets, when a property is abandoned and even when a tenant misplaces their keys.
Regulation of the prohibition of pets
In our consultation response, we state that the RLA would like to see the prohibition of pets set as a supplementary regulation for Occupation contracts.
Currently, this condition is set in the majority of contracts as the standard, due to the possible risk of damage to the property and the costs of cleaning the property thereafter of any pet mess and hairs.
We believe that setting the prohibition of pets as a supplementary condition will mean that if the tenant wishes to negotiate to remove the regulation, then the landlord can discuss on a case by case basis, as is currently the standard.
Provision of amenities to the dwelling-energy bills
Also in our consultation response, we have raised our concerns that there is not currently a term included (in the draft Act) in respect to a provision to ensure that all energy bills outstanding are paid at the end of the tenancy.
Sometimes, tenants leave a property with outstanding bills, and utility companies chasing the landlord for payment. We believe that leaving a forwarding address should be provisioned, to make it easier for bills to be forwarded on to the tenant.
Maintaining heating for winter months
In our consultation response, we have also outlined our concerns that currently, there are no provisions in the regulations to maintain the heating of a property during the winter month, in order or the pipes to not freeze.
It is expensive to replace such pipes, and we believe that such costs should not be transferred to the contract holder, as they failed to maintain the property.
The RLA recommends that a clear provision is made where in addition to this regulation or in a separate regulation that this matter is raised as an obligation by the contract holder.
Although there are set regulations regarding contract holder property if a dwelling is abandoned, the RLA would seek to include a regulation that deals with the abandonment of property, when the Dwelling has been returned by the contract holder.
When a tenant misplaces their keys
There is currently no provision in the regulation that relates to security and safety of a dwelling. Currently, the industry standard is that when a tenant has misplaced or lost their keys, a reasonable cost is paid by the contract holder for the landlord or the agent to attend the property, and to allow entry and replace the keys or change the lock.
If you are interested in hearing more about the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016, come along to our Future Renting Wales conference in a few weeks time. Hear from industry experts on what lies in store for landlords in Wales over the next few years. Book your tickets and check out the agenda here, with a keynote political heavyweight still to be announced!