Letting agents in Wales are to be given more time to comply with the country’s Renting Homes Act which had been due to go live on 15th July this year.
Now postponed until 1st December, housing minister Julie James (pictured) says the delay has been announced after representations from the sector.
“I accept that landlords from both private and public sectors, as well as letting agents and other stakeholders, would benefit from additional time to familiarise themselves with the various pieces of subordinate legislation – the final tranche of which are due to be made in July – before commencement,” she says.
The act will bring in huge changes to the way letting agents can evict tenants, issue tenancy contracts, and manage properties on landlords’ behalves.
This includes a six-month notice requirement for a landlord to end a contract where the tenant is not at fault, a minimum ‘security of tenure’ of one year from the date of moving in and tighter rules on so-called retaliatory evictions and easier management of joint tenancies.
The act also introduces new terminology for agents to grapple with including contract holder (not tenants or licencees) and occupation contracts and/or standard contracts (replacing ASTs).
The changes will mean agents and their software suppliers will have to retool significant parts of their operations to cope with the new contracts, terminology and eviction rules.
“I want to do all I can to ensure landlords have adequate time to make the necessary preparations to comply with the requirements of the Act,” says James.
“I recognise that preparing new occupation contracts and ensuring that properties meet the fitness standards set out in the legislation are major undertakings, particularly for those landlords responsible for a large number of properties and tenants.”
Daryl McIntosh (pictured), Propertymark’s policy manager for the UK Devolved Nations, said: “This delay has come completely out of the blue.
“We understand that this is a huge piece of legislation that fundamentally changes the entire rented sector in Wales, but what is taking so long? Royal Assent was granted six years ago and the Welsh Government still hasn’t published all of the regulations.
“With hindsight, the five-month delay probably shouldn’t come as a surprise, and will give our member agents and their landlords, and the rest of the rented sector, some additional time to understand and implement the changes.
“We urge Ministers to get on with publishing the remaining regulations within their original timeframe of June and July to ensure there is sufficient lead-in time and to avoid any further delays and uncertainty.”