The Welsh Government has started a formal consultation on proposals that include extending the minimum notice period applicable to a section 173 notice from two to six months.
Section 173 of the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016, as currently drafted, allows an owner to seek possession of a property without a breach of contract occurring with two months’ notice. However, the Cardiff administration wants this amended to “improve security of tenure for people who rent their homes.”
The wider proposals provide what the Welsh Government calls “a new, streamlined and reformed basis for residential letting in Wales, with significant benefits for anyone who rents their home.”
- Mandatory written contracts, clearly setting out all the relevant rights and responsibilities of landlords and contract-holders;
- Arrangements for joint contracts, which will stop one joint contract-holder acting alone to end the contract, helping to prevent unintentional homelessness;
- Protection against retaliatory evictions – when a landlord evicts a tenant in response to a request for repairs or maintenance;
- The introduction of a Fitness for Human Habitation standard for all privately rented properties, including regulations setting out requirements for smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and electrical safety testing.
Specifically Section 173, as currently drafted, allows a property owner to seek possession of a property without a breach of contract occurring with two months’ notice.
Welsh Government housing minister Julie James says: “I am today launching a consultation asking for views about amending the Renting Homes Act before it comes into force. Under the consultation are main proposals for periodic contracts (those contracts with no end-date):
- Extending the minimum notice period applicable to a section 173 notice from two to six months;
- Restricting a landlord from serving a section 173 notice within the first six months of a periodic contract, rather than four months as currently provided for;
- Placing a six-month restriction on issuing a section 173 notice following the expiry of a previous notice.
“The main proposals for fixed-term contracts (those contracts with a pre-agreed end-date) are:
- Removal of a landlord’s ability to end a fixed term standard contract under section 186;
- To consider the use of break clauses in fixed term contracts.”
James says the government also wants views on measures including:
- Restrictions on issuing possession notices to landlords which the courts have found to have carried out retaliatory eviction;
- Restrictions on issuing possession notices to property owners in breach of other laws related to rented housing, such as not having an Energy Performance Certificate or a valid gas safety certificate.
The consultation document and questions can be found here and the consultation will close on September 5.