The Labour-controlled Welsh Government has unveiled large scale reforms of the private rental sector which may be a taste of things to come in other parts of the UK if the party wins the general election.
The Renting Homes (Wales) Bill is described as one of the most significant pieces of legislation to be introduced in recent years. It will replace several different types of tenancy and landlord licence with contracts – one for the private rented sector and one for the social rented sector.
Specifically it will mean:
– Tenants to be given ‘easy-to-understand’ written contracts by letting agents or landlords;
– Landlords no longer being able to undertake so-called ‘revenge evictions’;
– New powers to evict domestic abusers without affecting others living at the property;
– More flexibility for landlords to offer short-term tenancies;
– 16 and 17-year-olds with the right to rent their own property for the first time.
Shelter has previously claimed the flexibility over the duration of short term tenancies will give tenants in Wales a level of security of tenure that is lower than in any other country in western Europe.
A statement from the charity says: “It is important that new tenancies start off with a probationary period. Potentially, this period could be fixed term or monthly periodic. What is unacceptable, though, is the prospect of households languishing with no fixed term indefinitely – a situation which in our view the Renting Homes Bill, as currently drafted, actively encourages by providing for contracts to be periodic from the outset.”
The bill will be debated by the Welsh Assembly during the spring.