Landlords in Wales should be able to serve notice under Section 173 after four months, with this taking effect after the six month fixed term says the RLA.
The association’s vice chair and director for Wales Douglas Haig addressed the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee at the Senedd today, and said this tweak to the Renting Homes (Amendment) (Wales) Bill would give tenants more notice and landlords the flexibility to preserve the annual business cycle.
Twelve month tenancies
In February, the Welsh government announced that as part of the Renting Homes (Amendment) (Wales) Bill, landlords will be unable to serve notice during the first six months of a new let, and the notice period would also extend from the current two months to six months – effectively creating 12 month contracts.
The new rule will only affect so-called ‘no fault’ repossessions, where a landlord needs to take their property back, for example if they need to move into it themselves or sell it. Landlords will still be able to issue a possession notice with a shorter notice period if the contract has been breached under current Section 8 rules.
Giving evidence to the ELGC Committee on the proposals today, Douglas Haig acknowledged the Welsh Government’s intention to retain Section 173 instead of abolishing it altogether, but also said that there are significant issues with the proposals as they stand.
Introduce a period of time when notice can be served
Under the proposals put forward by the Welsh government, there is a six month minimum term and landlords are only able to serve notice after the fixed term, by hand and on one particular day to be able to maintain a one year tenancy.
Douglas Haig told the ELGC committee that instead of this, the RLA would like to see more flexibility by introducing a period of time during which the notice can be served, to take effect after the six months.
Ability for landlords to serve notice within the fixed term
Mr Haig told the committee that because the Renting Homes (Amendment) (Wales) Bill effectively creates 12 month contracts, the RLA would also like for landlords in Wales to be able to serve notice within the fixed term, but for there to still be a minimum period for a tenant of 12 months.
Students and young professionals
One of the main concerns the RLA has with the Bill is that it could make it very difficult for landlords to cater for tenants who want a year-long (12 month) tenancy, such as students or young professionals, as the changes to fixed term contracts may jeopardize the ability to maintain the annual cycle to this.
Addressing the committee today, Douglas Haig explained that for a 12-month contract – standard for students and young professionals – the changes on notice period mean the period will effectively increase to 18 months.
However, if the Welsh Government took into consideration the above proposals put forward by the RLA, then this would give landlords the confidence and certainty that a tenancy would come to an end.
Balance for both landlords and tenants -wider changes needed
During the evidence session Douglas Haig also reiterated the RLA’s call for a Housing Court to be introduced in order to speed up access to justice for tenants and landlords in situations where something goes wrong with a tenancy.
Mr Haig was giving evidence alongside David Cox of the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA). The evidence session can be watched again here.
What happens next?
The Equality, Communities and Local Government committee will continue to take evidence on this, and will produce a report on their findings. The RLA will provide members with an update.
- You can read the RLA’s written evidence on the Renting Homes (Amendement) (Wales) Bill for the ECLG committee here