New rules could effectively see the introduction of 12 month tenancies by default

The private rented sector in Wales could see the introduction of tenancies of a minimum of a year as standard by default.

Welsh housing minister Julie James has announced a consultation on extending the Section 173 notice period from two to six months, meaning it will be a year in total before a landlord is able to evict tenants.

Under Section 173 of the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016, the Welsh equivalent of Section 21, private landlords are not permitted to repossess properties during the first six months of the tenancy.

The Welsh government will now consult on whether to increase the minimum notice period of Section 173 from two months to six months, and on plans to restrict issuing of a Section 173 for six months after the start of the contract.

But the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) described the plan as ‘scandalous’, pointing out that any change must be introduced only if repossession routes are reformed for the vast majority of landlords who have legitimate reasons to repossess their property.

‘This is scandalous move that is essentially introducing 12 month contracts by default. Creating a situation where a property cannot be repossessed within the first six months and then introducing a further six-month notice period could cause huge problems for landlords,’ said RLA vice chair and director for Wales, Douglas Haig.

‘They will be left powerless when it comes to problem tenants, who will be legally allowed to stay in the property for a year. If tenants are not paying rent, huge arrears could build up in this time,’ he explained.

‘We will be warning government that this move could cause serious damage to landlord confidence and the availability of homes to rent in Wales, at a time when demand continues to increase,’ he added.

‘The Government needs to ensure that landlords with a genuine need to regain possession of their properties are able to do so,’ he concluded.