What is happening to Housing Law in Wales?

by Tessa Shepperson

2 months ago

What is happening to Housing Law in Wales?

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What is happening to Housing Law in Wales?

This is the 14th post in my 2017 Legal Update series.

If you are in Wales or own or manage a rented property in Wales you may have noticed from this update series that quite a few of the new regulations don’t apply to you and you may be wondering what is going on.

What is happening is that Welsh housing law is going to be changing dramatically. It is part of a big divergence between the law in England and Wales due to the Welsh Assembly flexing its muscles.

I rather approve of much of what the Welsh Assembly has done, but I have reservations about the wisdom of having such big differences in the law between England & Wales. It is going to be hard on agents, for example, who manage properties in both places.

So, what is happening?

It’s mostly down to two acts:

  • The Housing (Wales) Act 2014, and
  • The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016.

Let’s take a look at them:

The Housing (Wales) Act 2014 – registration and licensing

The main effect of this Act that all landlords and letting agents need to register with Rent Smart Wales.

Further, landlords and letting agents are not allowed to manage property unless they are licensed. This involves undergoing training and (of course) paying a license fee.

If you are a landlord you don’t have to be licensed, but you still need to register and (if you are not licensed) you are not allowed to manage your property (including serving possession notices) – you need to appoint a licensed agent.

If you are a Welsh landlord you should have registered by now as this Act came into force some time ago. If you haven’t – you need to register pronto. Otherwise:

  • You can be prosecuted and fined by your Local Authority
  • They can apply to the First Tier Tribunal for a ‘rent stopping order’
  • They (and your tenants) can also apply for a Rent Repayment order
  • You won’t be able to serve a valid section 21 notice

So basically, you won’t be able to charge rent, past rent will have to be paid back, and you won’t be able to evict your tenants.

So, my advice is to make sure you are at least registered.

My understanding is that Rent Smart Wales are more interested in ensuring that landlords are registered than bringing prosecutions – but don’t count on it. The first successful prosecutions have already taken place.

The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 – A New Statutory Code

This act is the reason why Wales is excluded from all the recent regulations that have been introduced in England. Under this act Wales is going to have a completely new statutory code.

The inspiration for this is the Renting Homes project carried out by the Law Commission which was published in 2006 but which was never taken up by Westminster.

We had a Conference in Cardiff in 2015 specifically on these changes and you can see a talk by the former Law Commissioner Martin Partington discussing the changes here.

Although the act has been passed it has not yet come into force and I am not going to discuss its provisions here – other than to say that tenancy agreements will be mandatory and they are looking at having prescribed tenancy agreement forms.

If you are registered with Rent Smart Wales you will be kept up to date no doubt with developments.

We will also be adding to our Wales section on Landlord Law, in due course, when we know what is happening.

In the meantime, the law in Wales at the moment is more or less as it was in England before the Deregulation Act changes.

Summary of differences

Here is just a quick summary of the differences as of now (although some of this will change once the Renting Home (Wales) Act comes into force):

Still the same (at the moment) –

  • Tenancy Agreements (but this will change under the new Act)
  • Consumer Law (mostly but some regulations just in England)
  • Housing Health and Safety Rating System (save that the new enforcement rules discussed in this post are just in England)
  • Landlords Repairing Obligations
  • Tenancy Deposit Rules
  • HMO rules (although different LAs will have different schemes and the new enforcement rules discussed here are just in England)
  • Leaseholder Landlord issues
  • The Court Procedure Rules

Different

  • Right to rent checks – not applicable to Wales (but may be introduced later)
  • Deregulation Act changes to section 21 – only apply in England
  • The new enforcement measures discussed here – only apply in England
  • The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide regulations – only apply in England

(Note that this is not a complete list)

Further information:

The best place to find out more is the Rent Smart Wales website.

Because we love Wales and the Welsh at Landlord Law I am also making available foc for a limited period, a talk from our 2015 Wales Conference on section 21 in Wales >> here. You can thank me by buying one of our other ‘paid for’ courses 😉

If you want to see the rest of the 2015 Wales Conference, all the talks can be found (for +plus members only) in the Conference Section of Landlord Law.

Note that despite the differences, much of our online course content WILL apply in Wales – for example:

  • The Landlords Repairing Obligations course is valid for Wales
  • Most of the Conference Course talks will be relevant apart from the Right to Rent checks talk (and elsewhere where the law differs the speakers mention this, in their notes if not in their talk)

You will find more information about the Conference Course here.

In the next post I will be discussing Possession Proceedings

Tessa Shepperson is a specialist landlord & tenant lawyer and runs the popular Landlord Law online information service.

To see all the articles in my series please Click Here

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