Changes to the Renting Homes (Wales) Act: What Landlords Need to Know

As the Renting Homes (Wales) Act has updated the law on tenancies in Wales, Ben Davies, a Director in our Property Litigation team, explains how some of the changes will impact landlords and tenants in Wales.

Welsh housing law underwent a seismic change as of 1st December 2022 when the Renting Homes (Wales) Act (“RHWA”) came into force, causing a much greater divergence than previously existed with English housing law. The RHWA essentially got rid of the terminology of ‘tenancies’ and ‘tenants’, referring now to ‘occupation contracts’ (‘OC’) and ‘contract holders’.

As a result, some uncertainty now exists in Welsh housing law as the new legislation is interpreted.

What is not uncertain, however, is the purpose of the RHWA which is to create a ‘one-stop-shop’ for housing law in Wales with its focus being to increase security of tenure, meaning to be protective of what had formerly been referred to as ‘tenants’.

Within the changes, extensive requirements have been put upon landlords of properties subject to occupation contracts with penalties for failing to fulfil them. Furthermore, much more security is now given to contract holders in the form of longer periods before notice can be served by landlords and if the extensive requirements are not fulfilled, notices often become automatically invalid with lengthy periods of time having to be waited until a further one can be served.

The legislation is so prescriptive that it creates the concept of ‘fundamental terms’ which are terms that the parties cannot omit from the occupation contract (even with the contract holder’s consent) and can only vary them if they improve the position of the contract-holder.

Much legislation which continues to apply in England no longer applies in Wales from the 1st December 2022, including the Housing Act 1988 provisions relating to Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreements.

A no-fault notice (previously s.21 under the Housing Act 1988) now has a minimum notice period of six months. However, landlords who have failed to provide written statements in accordance with the RHWA would also have to wait 6 months from the date they provide the written statement before serving a no-fault notice.

Landlords can seek possession if the contract holder is seriously in arrears i.e. at least 2 months’ rent is outstanding where the rental period is a month. However, landlords need to be conscious of the ‘fitness for human habitation’ requirements when considering the amount of rent arrears. Contract holders may not be liable for rent for periods when a property is deemed unfit, and so whilst a notice based on rental arrears could potentially be served earlier than a no-fault notice, the issue over whether the property is fit for human habitation (and the cause if it is not) needs to be carefully considered.

If you have any doubts as to your understanding of RHWA 2016 or need advice on the effects of the new legislation, get in touch with Benjamin Davies by calling 01792 529696 or email