How your agency can prepare for the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 [+ podcast]
The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 will come into effect on 1 December 2022. Ricky Purdy, Director of Lettings at Dawsons, shares how his agency is preparing.
The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 is set to shake up the lettings landscape in Wales. Originally coming into effect on 15 July 2022, we had a short reprieve of four and a half months when the deadline was pushed back to 1 December 2022. It's up to us as agents to ensure that our landlords are engaging with the right information in time to stay compliant - as a lot is changing.
The changes under the new legislation
Everything will change under the new legislation - terminology, the phraseology, and a lot of the core aspects that we are familiar with and have been accustomed to for 20 or 30 years. Assured Shorthold Tenancies as we know them will be replaced, and notice periods will extend to six months, with section 21s and section 8s changing too.
HMO properties already have a number of mandatory requirements that will now become the case across all residential properties - the introduction of new rules for carbon monoxide alarms and electrical certificates are just two of the bigger changes from what is currently in place.
Communicating to landlords and tenants
Landlords need reassurance through structured correspondence around what they need to do, and how it will have a bearing on their responsibilities and financial outlay.
Tenants also need reassurance, as their tenancy agreement will look and read very differently - although their security of tenancy will improve.
When advising on the changes, agents should find a balance between informing landlords of the relevant details while not raising too many unnecessary frustrations or concerns.
There will be new requirements, new guidance, new certifications, and we'll need to be on hand to help landlords get ready in advance of the compliance deadlines.
Government support through licensing and the landlord register
To help the industry prepare, licensing and the landlord register through Rent Smart Wales means that there's a set database that allows the government to communicate information directly about these changes - not just to the agents but landlords too.
Everyone has the same base of information, making our role as agents a little easier.
Keeping the promises you make to landlords
You need to also make sure that the promises that you make to landlords are realistic for you to achieve so you can continue to meet the expectations of clients without falling short.
We're doing what we can as early as we can - but also doing things on a gradual basis where possible. There are things that need to happen by 1 December, and others that need to happen after. There's a clear divide between the two.
We shouldn't be overly premature when making the changes. During the transition period, we can help landlords to spread the cost and time involved when legally correct.
If we try to pack in all the changes before 1 December, this will create stress and tension, which we obviously want to avoid.
Understanding the potential impact of the changes
Are there bottlenecks now as everyone tries to get things in place in time or did the extra few months help?
Some agents and landlords will have taken their foot off the gas when the date was pushed back, which merely delayed the pinch points in finding contractors and tradesmen to complete the necessary safety checks in time for the new deadline.
An electrical certificate visit isn't overly time-consuming in relative terms, but any remedial work in gaining relevant certification could cause a bigger logistical problem. But, if we structure the work in a realistic manner, we'll get through it all in time.
There may also be some landlords that decide to leave the market ahead of the uncertainty that the new rules bring - especially with the changes to no-fault evictions - as staying compliant can be complicated and time consuming. But, for those landlords with an engaged, proactive agent doing things on their behalf, that burden is taken from them.
Also, if there were to be a surge of landlords leaving the market, I feel we would have seen greater numbers doing so by now, which we must see as a positive. We've in fact seen that many landlords understand the benefits and reassurances of the current market, with record rents and low void periods.
The new six month notice periods are similar to the Covid measures in the last couple of years, which gave us an early insight, to see how it's going to be received.
In real terms, as we hit the summer months, when the six-month grace period for existing tenancies come to pass, that's when we'll get a true reflection of how it will be through to the end of 2023 and on to 2024.
This article is intended as a guide only and does not constitute legal advice. For more information, visit gov.wales.