Housing (Wales) Act 2014 – in particular part 1, which addresses the regulation of private housing. Having received Royal assent, this bill is expected to be launched in Wales by Assembly Member Lesley Griffiths in the autumn of 2015.
Once implemented, all Landlords will be obliged by law to:
- Register themselves as a landlord (there will be a fee payable)
- Register each rental property they own within Wales (there will be a fee for each property)
- Become licensed if they intend to undertake ANY of the property management themselves OR
- Instruct a licensed Lettings agent if they do not want to become licensed and are content to become fully ‘hands off’
Licensing will be awarded following appropriate training, and Landlords who are already accredited under the Landlord Accreditation (Wales) scheme are likely to be ‘passported’ across to the new licensing scheme without further training.
Fees have not been announced as of yet. Landlords are to be given 12 months following implementation to comply. Enforcement will commence a year later and there will be heavy fixed fines for those who are not compliant by that time.
Immigration Act 2014 – commonly referred to as The Right To Rent. Currently being trialled in the Midlands, and expected to be rolled out across the UK later on in the year. Landlords and agents will be expected to conduct checks that potential tenants have the right to live in the UK before offering them a tenancy. Landlords of tenants who do not conduct the checks, and where the tenant is later found to be an illegal immigrant will be liable for penalties of £3000 per tenant.
There are plans by the Home Office to provide a 24 hour manned telephone advice service to those processing tenancy applications.
Welsh Assembly’s Renting Homes Bill - Introduced by Lesley Griffiths AM in February 2015, and expected to receive Royal assent by early 2016.
This bill makes a number of fundamental changes to Residential Lettings legislation as we know it. The key proposals are as follows:
- A standard contract will replace the current Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) agreement. A standard contract can be either ‘periodic’, running from week to week or month to month, or ‘fixed term’ which will usually run for a pre-determined number of weeks or months
- A landlord will be required to provide the tenant with a written contract no longer than 2 weeks from the date of occupation
- Changes to the processes for ending a contract
- Simplification of the grounds for possession , including the removal of ground 8, but in most cases the revised grounds under the bill will be discretionary
- Removal of the current initial 6 month moratorium
- The property requires the Landlord to ensure that the house is fit for human habitation and that the property does not contain any Category 1 or 2 hazards as defined under section 2 of the Housing Act 2004 (Damp and Mould Growth and Excess cold to you and me!)
- The banning of retaliatory evictions
- Contracts will be available for 16 and 17 year olds
- Abandonment – where it is clear that a property has been abandoned, the Bill will enable a Landlord to repossess the dwelling without a repossession order from the court
- The enhancement of succession rights to family members and the introduction of succession rights to voluntary carers.
- An extension of the tenancy deposit schemes to all types of contract
Deregulation Bill - The Deregulation Bill 2015 is proposing amendments to the Housing Act 2004 to bring about some much needed clarity and put Superstrike vs Rodrigues to bed once and for all.
This Bill makes it clear that:
- If a deposit is paid in respect of a fixed term AST prior to the tenancy deposit rules coming into effect on 6 April 2007, but which became periodic after 6 April 2007, the landlord should protect the deposit and serve the prescribed information within 90 days of the Bill gaining Royal Assent
- For deposits paid and protected in connection with a fixed term AST after 6 April 2007, the landlord’s compliance with the tenancy deposit rules in connection with the original fixed term will suffice for the purposes of the statutory periodic tenancy when the fixed term expires, ie there is no need to re-serve the prescribed information once the fixed term expires which was the concern following the decision in Superstrike
- The Bill confirms that where a tenancy has become periodic prior to the tenancy deposit rules coming into force on 6 April 2007, those deposits should be protected but there is no financial penalty for failure to do so
And last but not least Labours manifesto pledges …
- Mandatory 3 year tenancies
- A cap on rent increases during the fixed term of the tenancy
- The prohibition of letting agents charging tenant fees
Lettings are becoming a complicated business, but we’re always here to help you – just give us a call if you need any advice.