The biggest change to housing law in Wales for decades came in on December 1, 2022, affecting the relationship between landlord and tenant.
Existing obligations such as registering with Rent Smart Wales and deposit protection still apply, but ASTs and AAOs no longer exist, and have been converted into new ‘Occupation Contracts’.
If you have a contract that existed before December 1 2022 this automatically converted to an Occupation Contract on that date, and you must issue the contract holder with a new written statement of terms by May 31, 2023.
If you have new contract holders (the new word for tenants) moving in you need to make sure that certain requirements, such as installing integrated and interconnected smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and an carrying out an electrical safety test have been done before the date that they move in. You must give them with a written statement within 14 days of them moving in.
The contracts themselves are changing, and the new documents have three types of terms:
1 Fundamental terms cover the key terms of the contract and are always included, using prescribed wording. Some of these terms can be changed, but only if that change benefits the contract holder.
2 Supplementary terms are also always included and deal with day-to-day matters. These can only be removed from the contract if you both agree.
3 Additional terms address matters that are particular to the property and can be drafted to fit the particular situation. It is important that these terms are fair to the Contract Holder.
There have always been some obligations for landlords to keep the property in a good state of repair, but this been extended to ensuring that a property is “Fit for Human Habitation”. This means that, for example, the supplies of hot water, gas, electricity and sanitation are in good repair, and imposes obligations to do electrical/gas safety checks and fit integrated and interconnected smoke alarms to the property. Some certificates have to be supplied to Tenants by 30th November this year for existing Contracts as well as new.
Landlords that do not comply with the new rules can face sanctions so it is important that you know and understand your responsibilities and how to comply with them.
How can Agri Advisor help? We can help to review your current contract and advise you on your next steps. For a straightforward “conversion” of an existing tenancy/licence agreement to an occupation contract we will charge a fixed fee of £400 plus VAT. For anything else we will let you have an estimate of likely costs.
Column courtesy of Eve Shrimpton – Trainee solicitor at Agri Advisor