Wales

Year-long contracts to be made mandatory by the Welsh Government

Sally Walmsley
Written by Sally Walmsley

Landlords in Wales will soon be unable to regain possession of their property for at least 12 months under a new law announced today.

The new law applies unless a tenant breaches the terms of their contract. For example if they are committing antisocial behaviour or are in rent arrears-or if a tenant decides to leave.

What the new law means

Landlords will be unable to serve notice during the first six months of a new let under the Renting Homes (Amendment) (Wales) Bill, with the subsequent notice period extending from two to six months.

The combined effect means it will be a year before a landlord is able to repossess their property.

For a 12-month contract – standard for students and young professionals – the period will increase to 18 months because you can’t serve the notice in the first six months.

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.

Warning

However, the RLA has warned that many landlords whose tenants are not paying the rent, are making neighbours lives a misery or wilfully damaging the property use the ‘no-fault’ repossession route as the alternative is not fit for purpose.

Douglas Haig, RLA vice chair and director for Wales said: “While we acknowledge the minister has recognised the complete removal of Section 21 would be bad for the sector, we are disappointed with today’s proposals.

“It is absolutely essential that landlords with a legitimate reason to repossess their property are able to do so.

“If they do not many could opt to leave the market altogether – leaving renters with fewer options and potentially pushing rents up.

“The government says that those with grounds to repossess can still give the shorter notice period using Section 8.

“However RLA research shows 83% of landlords who used Section 21 had done so because of rent arrears alone. Over half had experienced anti-social tenants. 

“This proves that despite having grounds to evict landlords are currently five times more likely to use the ‘no fault’ Section 21 notice, due to the lengthy court waiting times and expense associated with Section 8.

“Despite this, proposals do not include any plans to reform the grounds process, something we believe is vital before any change of this kind is made, to avoid a devastating cut to the supply of homes to rent in Wales at a time when demand continues to grow.”

What happens next?

The new law will be introduced before the Senedd today by Minister for Housing and Local Government, Julie James, following a consultation last year.

She says it will provide greater security for people who rent their home, particularly those in the PRS, while still allowing landlords to take back their properties ‘in a timely manner’ where the tenant is at fault.

The Bill amends the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016, and should it be passed by Members of the Senedd, it is anticipated the new law will come into force in the spring of 2021.

Announcing the change, the Housing Minister said: “The new Bill I am unveiling today will add further significant protections for those who rent their home in Wales to those already included in our landmark Renting Homes legislation.  

“These include, ensuring that a possession notice where there is no breach of contract cannot be served for the first six months of occupation, and where possession is sought, giving the contract holder six months’ notice. 

“This will provide valuable time for individuals and families faced with possession under section 173, and the organisations and agencies that support them, to find a new home that is right for them and make all necessary arrangements for a smooth transition to their new home.    

“I believe the Renting Homes (Wales) Act, as amended, will provide a sound basis for renting in Wales: balancing the needs and rights of both tenants and landlords and helping ensure our PRS is a well-managed option for households.” 

Train with us- Gaining Possession course coming to Cardiff next week

Interested in learning more about gaining possession as a landlord in Wales? Why not sign up to our Gaining Possession course, which is taking place in Cardiff on Tuesday 18th February.

About the author

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley is the Communications Manager for the RLA and award-winning Editor of RPI magazine. With 16 years’ experience writing for regional and national newspapers and magazines she is responsible for producing articles for our Campaigns and News Centre, the weekly E-News newsletter and editorial content for our media partners.

She issues press releases promoting the work of the RLA and its policies and campaigns to the regional and national media and works alongside the marketing team on the association’s social media channels to build support for the RLA and its work.

2 Comments

  • I do not understand the suggestion that student contracts would effectively be 18 months? If they have a 12 month contract (standard) and notice is served at 6 months (not breaching the first 6 months rule), and giving them 6 months notice, this ties up to their 12 month contract period does it not? The statement:
    ‘For a 12-month contract – standard for students and young professionals – the period will increase to 18 months because you can’t serve the notice in the first six months.’
    infers you cannot give notice until the end of the contract? Unless I am missing something, this is not a requirement / constraint, and student lets of 12 months still can be managed – albeit requiring service of the notice promptly on the 6 month anniversary.

    • Good afternoon Mr Mure. To clarify, under the proposed amendments to the Renting Homes Wales Act, most private landlords will not be able to serve a notice inside the fixed term of the tenancy. As a result, landlords who grant tenancies of 12 months will not be able to serve the notice until the day after the fixed term has expired. Coupled with the increased notice from 2 to 6 months, this means landlords offering a 12 month contract will have to wait 18 months before their notice can expire. I hope this helps, please do get in touch if you would like more information on this. Thanks, Victoria

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.