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Legal changes affecting tenants

The National Assembly for Wales has introduced some major new laws which will directly affect Council tenants.

Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016

The Renting Homes (Wales) Act became law in January 2016 and will affect all Council tenants.  The Act aims to simplify the existing tenancy legislation and make it easier and simpler to rent a home.  It won't come into force until at least Spring 2019, as the Welsh Government is currently working on the guidance and regulations that Welsh landlords, including the Council, will have to put into place.

What are the changes?

Tenants will become Contract-holders

Instead of tenancy agreements, there will be 'occupation contracts' - which will be set out by the Welsh Government.  When the Act comes into force, all existing tenancy agreements will automatically be replaced by occupation contracts.  Council tenants and Housing Association tenants will all have secure contracts.

There will be two types of contract:

  • A secure contract - this is based on the secure tenancy agreement currently used for Council accommodation.
  • A standard contract - this is based on the assured shorthold tenancy agreements used by private landlords.

If you are an introductory tenant then you will receive an Introductory Standard Contract, which will convert to a Secure Contract at the end of the period - unless there is a reason for the Council to terminate or extend it.

Many of the legal changes are aimed at improving conditions and security for tenants who are living in the private rented sector and will not affect Council tenants.

Your existing tenancy rights will not be reduced - but there will be some changes which will improve things for you such as:

  • Changes to joint tenancies:  A joint tenant leaving will no longer end the whole tenancy.
  • Succession rights:  There will be an additional right of succession and the new Act will also allow resident carers a right to succeed (only family members were previously allowed to succeed a secure tenancy).

What happens next?

The Welsh Government has said that it wants to implement the changes by Spring 2019 but a final date has yet to be decided.  A six month consultation period will take place before this happens so that you are fully informed of all the changes.

During this six month period, the Council will consult with existing tenants about any local additions to your occupation contracts.  You will be sent out further information by letter and there will be more information made available through Open House and in your District Housing Offices.  Following this, you will be sent a new Occupation Contract from the Council.

Further details can be found on the Welsh Government's website here:

http://gov.wales/topics/housing-and-regeneration/legislation/rentingbill/?lang=en

Abolition of the Right to Buy and Associated Rights (Wales) Bill

The Abolition of the Right to Buy and Associated Rights (Wales) Act 2018 gained Royal Assent on 24 January 2018.

The Government has decided to do this in order to protect social housing stock.  The Act allows a period of a year for tenants to use their right to buy and means that the abolition of the right to buy will come into force on 26 January 2019.  This date is earlier for new build properties and will be on 24 March 2018.

However, the Right to Buy has already been suspended in Swansea and then suspension will remain in place until April 2020.

In local authority areas where there is a suspension currently in place (which also includes Cardiff, Carmarthenshire, Denbighshire, Anglesey and Flintshire) tenants remain unable to use the Right to Buy, as suspensions will not be lifted before abolition comes into effect.  This is a Welsh Goverment decision.  This means that there will not be a 12 month period in Swansea, after the Bill becomes law, where tenants can use the right to buy.

Further details can be found on the Welsh Government's website:

http://gov.wales/topics/housing-and-regeneration/legislation/abolition-of-right-to-buy-and-associated-rights/?lang=en

 

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