How your agency can prepare for the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 [+ podcast]
The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 will come into effect on 15 July 2022. Ricky Purdy, Director of Residential 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. Coming into effect on 15 July 2022, we've only had a short time to prepare, with confirmation at the start of the year. 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.
Luckily, 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. So everyone has the same base of information, making our role as agents a little easier.
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 will change. 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 carbon monoxide alarms, and electrical certificates are just two of the bigger changes from what is currently in place.
How agents can support their landlords
All of this needs to be communicated to landlords. They 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 not change or, rather, it will improve.
At Dawsons, we make sure that we're here for a phone call and for an office drop in. A conversation with a landlord for 10 minutes in an office is equivalent to a great number of emails and updates, and of course far more personable.
When starting to make 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.
We need to also make sure that the promises that we make are realistic for us to achieve so we 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 15 July, 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 15 July, this will create stress and tension, which we obviously want to avoid.
Predictions on the impact of the changes
Could there be bottlenecks as everyone tries to get things in place in time?
There may be pinch points when we have to rely on contractors and tradesmen. 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 tail end of this year, that's when we'll get a true reflection of how it will be through 2023 and on to 2024, rather than the unnecessary knee jerk reactions we may see in the next six months