The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 comes into force on 1 December 2022.
The implementation of this Act has an impact on all existing tenancies, all new tenancies after 1st December 2022 along with other obligations on all parties including us as Agents.
We are already working on compliance to ensure that all Landlords and Tenants (Called Occupiers after 1st December) will comply.
Existing tenancies (and licence) will convert automatically to occupation contracts. Assured Shorthold Tenancies (AST) will become 'Standard Contracts'.
All new 'contracts' (what we all called tenancies) from 1 December will require a written statement (agreement) within 14 days of occupation, this is a new contract and sets out all of the usual occupancy conditions and obligations.
For all existing tenancies: a written statement of converted contract must be given by 1 June 2023 - issue a new contract within six months of implementation of the Act.
Key features of the 2016 Act
- Fitness fit for human habitation obligation on landlords
- Addresses retaliatory eviction
- More flexible arrangements for joint contracts
- Increased notice period for a rent increase
- No mandatory ground for eviction for serious rent arrears in secure contract
- Enhanced succession rights
- Simplified procedure to repossess abandoned dwellings
- Creates a tenure specific to supported accommodation
Fitness for Human Habitation
Fitness for Human Habitation
Based on existing 29 hazards under HHSRS, plus CO detectors, hard-wired smoke detectors and electrical safety testing at least every five years
Applies generally from 1 December but requirements for hard-wired smoke detectors and electrical safety testing won’t apply until 1 December 2023
Guidance being updated to allow for an Electrical Installation Certificate on a new-build within previous five-years to count as ‘electrical condition report’ under the regs.
Guidance available at: Fitness of homes for human habitation: guidance for landlords | GOV.WALES
Fact sheet about Fitness for Human Habitation fact sheet
Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 Fitness for Human Habitation and repair obligations
In 2014, the Housing (Wales) Act was introduced to regulate the private rented sector in Wales, replacing UK-wide provisions from the Housing Act 1985 and 1988. The Act led to the introduction of Rent Smart Wales in November 2015 which set out standards and obligations for landlords and agents to follow.
Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 received Royal Assent on 18 January 2016 which provides additional obligations for landlords and letting agents around the condition of their properties. The Renting Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) (Wales) Regulations 2022 and subsequent amendments provide further details on the new obligations.
WHAT THIS MEANS
From 1 December 2022, landlords and letting agents will have an obligation to ensure that property they let is both in repair and fit for human habitation as defined by the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 and the Renting Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) (Wales) Regulations 2022.
The regulations require landlords under a secure contract, a periodic contract or a fixed term standard contract made for a term of less than seven years to ensure that their rented property is fit for human habitation and in a good state of repair.
WHAT YOU NEED TO DO
Landlord’s obligation to keep the property in repair
Landlords must always keep the dwelling in repair and ensure that the structure and exterior of the building along with all service installations in the property are kept in repair.
For properties that only form part of a building, this rule only applies for the exterior and service installations where the landlord has an estate or interest, and service installations that are owned by the landlord.
Repairs must be conducted within a reasonable time frame and to a reasonable standard as soon as the landlords is aware of the need for repairs.
NOTE: When the repair is not the fault of the tenant, the landlord cannot place any obligation on the tenant such as to carry out the repairs or to contribute to the cost.
Fitness for Human Habitation
From the start and throughout the duration of the Occupation Contract, the landlord must ensure their property is fit for human habitation. This includes resolving any of the circumstances under the “Determining fitness for human habitation heading” and preventing any likelihood of any of them occurring.
NOTE: This responsibility extends to the common parts of a property and where landlord is the owner of or is responsible for them.
Determining Fitness for Human Habitation
The Renting Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) (Wales) Regulations 2022 provides 29 matters and circumstances that must be considered when determining whether a dwelling is fit for human habitation. These are based on the Housing Health and Safety Rating System and are:
1. Exposure to house dust mites, damp, mould or fungal growth
2. Exposure to excessively low temperatures
3. Exposure to excessively high temperatures
4. Exposure to asbestos and manufactured mineral fibres
5. Exposure to chemicals used to treat timber or mould growth
6. Exposure to carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and smoke
7. The ingestion of lead
8. Exposure to radiation
9. Exposure to uncombusted fuel gas
10. Exposure to volatile organic compounds
11. A lack of adequate space for living and sleeping
12. Difficulties in keeping dwelling secure against unauthorised entry
13. A lack of adequate lighting
14. Exposure to noise
15. Poor design, layout or construction such that the dwelling cannot readily be kept clean
a. Exposure to pests
b. Inadequate provision for the hygienic storage and disposal of household waste
16. Inadequate provision of facilities for the storage preparation and cooking of food
17. Inadequate provision of facilities for maintaining good personal hygiene, sanitation and drainage
18. An inadequate supply of water free from contamination, for drinking and other domestic purposes
19. Inadequate provision to minimise the risk of falls associated with toilets, baths, showers and other washing facilities.
20. Inadequate provision to minimise the risk of falling on a surface
21. Inadequate provision to minimise the risk of falling on stairs, steps or ramps
22. Inadequate provision to minimise the risk of falling from one surface to another (such as falling from height
23. Exposure to electricity
24. Exposure to uncontrolled fire and associated smoke
25. Risk of contact with controlled fire or flames and hot objects, liquid or vapours
26. Risk of collision with, or entrapment of body parts in doors, windows or other architectural features
27. Risk of an explosion at the dwelling
28. Poor accessibility or operation of amenities, fittings and equipment
29. Risk of structural collapse of whole or part of the dwelling, including falling elements.
NOTE: In addition to this, the fitness for human habitation regulations establishes requirements for landlords to meet minimum electrical safety as well as smoke and carbon monoxide alarm standards.
Landlords must ensure that, during each period of occupation, there is at least one smoke alarm on each floor of the property.
The smoke alarm must be in proper working order, connected to the property’s electrical supply and linked to every other smoke alarm in the property which is connected to the electrical supply.
NOTE: Landlords with properties with new contracts beginning on or after 1 December 2022 will need to comply with the smoke alarm rules. For tenancies which existed before 1 December 2022, landlords will have 12 months to comply with these requirements (by 1 December 2023).
Carbon monoxide alarms
Landlords must ensure that a carbon monoxide alarm is in proper working order in any room (including a hall, landing or corridor) which has a gas appliance, oil fired combustion appliance or solid fuel burning combustion appliance installed.
NOTE: Gas appliance means an appliance designed for use by someone of gas heating, lighting, cooking but does not include a portable or mobile appliance supplied with gas from a cylinder or an appliance which the Contract Holder is entitled to remove from the property under the terms of the Occupation Contract.
It is advised that carbon monoxide alarms are placed below any smoke/fire alarms and are replaced more regularly due to being more fragile than smoke alarms.
The Regulations do not stipulate whether the carbon monoxide alarms should be battery powered or connect to the property’s electrical supply.
NOTE: There is no statutory duty on when alarms should be tested but it is recommended that they are tested when repairs are taking place or when other electrical testing is taking place in the dwelling.
If any of the alarms are not in place or not in working order, the dwelling will be considered unfit for human habitation.
NOTE: The requirements for carbon monoxide alarms apply to all Occupation Contracts from 1 December 2022.
Landlords are required to have the electrical installation of the property tested every five years unless specified with the Electrical Inspection Condition Report. The test must be conducted by a qualified person e.g., a registered electrician and the report is valid until the end of the five-year period beginning with the day on which the electrical safety inspection
was carried out.
NOTE: A copy must be handed to the tenant before 14 days passes after the occupation date, with the tenant informed if any investigatory or remedial work needs to be done. Once this work has taken place written confirmation must be provided to the Contract Holder.
If an inspection takes place during the tenancy, the tenant must receive a copy of the report within 14 days that the inspection was completed. Similarly, the tenant must be informed of any works that will need to take place within 14 days of the landlord receiving confirmation.
NOTE: An Electrical Installation Condition Report on a new-build within the previous five-years counts as an electrical safety report for the purposes of these regulations.
Failure to meet these requirements will lead to the dwelling being unfit for human habitation.
NOTE: For new contracts which begin on or after 1 December 2022 landlords will need to ensure properties, they let comply with the electrical safety rules. For tenancies which existed before 1 December 2022 landlords will have 12 months to comply with these requirements (by 1 December 2023).
WHAT YOU NEED TO BE AWARE OF
• Structure and exterior of a dwelling - include the drains, gutters and external pipes
• Service installations - refer to appliances that are used for the supply of water, gas or electricity, sanitation and for space heating (including heating water)
• Standard of repair - is defined as “that which is reasonable having regard to the age and character of the dwelling, and the period during which the dwelling is likely to be available for occupation as a home”.
• Electrical safety standards – mean the standards for electrical service installations set out in the eighteenth edition of the Wiring Regulations set out as British Safety Standards BS 7671:2018+A2:2022
Right of access to dwellings
A landlord has the right to entry to inspect the condition and state of repair or to carry out works or repairs to comply with their obligations.
NOTE: The landlord must provide at least 24 hours’ notice to the tenant before exercising their right of access.
If the landlord requires access to another part of the building that they need to carry out repairs to but are unable to gain the right to access it, they are not liable for failing to comply with their repair obligations.
If a tenant suffers a personal injury, loss of or damage to personal property because of a landlord failing to meet their obligations, the tenant has the right to bring in proceedings in respect of the injury, loss, or damage.
NOTE: A lodger or sub-holder may only do this if they are allowed to live in the dwelling or if a sub-occupation contract is made.
The courts may order a landlord to undertake repairs due to a breach of their repairing obligation, even if a rule in common law might otherwise limit any legal action that can be enforced against the landlord.
There are various situations where a landlord is exempt from their responsibility to repair or ensure that the dwelling is fit for human habitation in the following circumstances:
• If the landlord cannot meet their duties within incurring unreasonable expense
• A landlord is not required to rebuild or reinstate the dwelling or any part of it that was damaged or destroyed by a fire, storm, flood or other inevitable accident (relevant cause)
• If the dwelling is unfit or in need of repair due to the action, inaction or lack of care on behalf of the tenant or any other permitted occupier
• A landlord is not required to keep in repair anything that the tenant is entitled to remove from the dwelling
• The landlord’s obligations are only applicable at the point when the landlord becomes aware that works or repairs are necessary
• If a new landlord is taking over control of the property from a previous one, they are only liable after they are aware of the need for repairs or works and from the date of the transfer
All the rules regarding fitness for human habitation and the repair obligation come into force on 1 December 2022.
NOTE: The only exemptions are for laws affecting smoke alarms (not including carbon monoxide alarms) and electrical safety requirements for tenancies which existed before 1 December 2022. For these tenancies, landlords will have 12 months to comply with the smoke alarm and electrical safety requirements however all new contracts from 1 December 2022 will still have to comply with the regulations.
Brining a tenancy to an end
For all existing tenancies the notice period is two months, However, after 1st June 2023 it will be a six months' notice period for all tenancies.
For New Contracts (tenancies) after 1st December 2022 the notice period will be six months.
The reason given by Welsh Government for a six months' notice period is to provide occupiers more time to save for a move.
Property Marks Concern
Propertymark's concerns for the 6 months' notice - 'in our consultation response, we outlined that we recognise the importance of security of tenure, especially for vulnerable groups. However, we raised caution about the lack of supply in the Private Rented Sector (PRS) and how it would drive more landlords to sell up and leave the sector. This could mean reduced housing options for the most vulnerable and increased rents for tenants who remain in the sector.'
This page is being updated and intended to assist Landlords and Contract Holders (Tenants)
Last updated 17th November 2022