Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016

Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 : Renting is changing


On the 1 December 2022, the rules about how you rent your home will change as the Welsh Government brings in the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016.

The new rules will affect both private and social tenants, and although might seem complicated at first, they should make being a tenant in Wales more simple and straightforward. The rules should also help prevent some of the problems that tenants can currently face.

We will be producing lots of helpful information about the new rules over the next few months, but, in the meantime, you can find out about some of the main changes below.

If you under 25, check out our young person’s guide to the new rules.



What changes are going to happen?


Changes to tenancy types


Once the new rules come in to force, tenants will be known as ‘contract holders’.

Most tenancies and licences, including assured shorthold, assured and secure tenancies, will be replaced with either:

  • a secure occupation contract, or
  • a standard occupation contract.

The type of occupation contract given will depend on whether the property is owned by a private landlord or a council or housing association.

There will be some different occupation contracts for specific types of housing, such as supported housing, and introductory (sometimes known as ‘probationary’) contracts.

If you already have a tenancy or licence, it will automatically ‘convert’ to the relevant occupation contract on the date that the new rules come in (currently the 1 December 2022).

Some situations, including regulated Rent Act tenancies, direct access hostels or some accommodation provided under a temporary homelessness duty, will not be affected.


Changes to landlord types


Landlords will be grouped into one of 2 groups:

  • community landlords (council and housing associations)
  • private landlords (any landlord who is not a community landlord).

Community landlords will generally provide secure occupation contracts.

Private landlords will generally provide standard occupation contracts.


Terms of occupation contracts


Standard terms will be introduced which must be included in every occupation contract.

Landlords will have to issue contract holders with a written statement within 14 days of moving in, clearly setting out the rights and responsibilities of the landlord and the contract holder.

Any landlord who fails to provide a written statement in the required time, or provides an incomplete or incorrect statement, can face penalties.


Ending occupation contracts


The rules about how a landlord can end an occupation contract will change. Some of the main changes include:

  • the notice period that a landlord will have to give a contract holder under ‘no fault’ grounds (currently commonly known as a ‘section 21 notice‘) will be 6 months
  • a landlord will not be able to give such a notice until 6 months after the contract starts
  • a landlord will not be able to give such a notice unless they have complied with certain obligations, including registration, licensing, deposit protection rules and health & safety provisions
  • landlord break clauses will only be able to be incorporated into an occupation contract if the contract has a fixed term of 2 years or more. A landlord will not be able to exercise a break clause within the first 18 months of occupation.

Repairs and conditions of rented properties


All rented properties will have to be fit for human habitation. The fitness test will be based on the existing Housing Health and Safety Rating System.

In addition, landlords will continue to have to keep the structure and exterior of the property in repair and keep installations for the supply of water, gas or electricity, for sanitation, for space heating, and hot water in repair and proper working order. These obligations will be in all occupation contracts.

A landlord will not be able to evict a contract holder just because they have complained about the condition of the property (commonly known as a ‘retaliatory eviction’). If a landlord applies to court for a possession order but it is refused on the grounds that it was a retaliatory eviction, the landlord cannot give a further ‘no fault’ notice until 6 months later.


Joint contracts


A joint contract holder will be able to move out without the contract ending for the remaining joint contract holders.

New joint contract holders will be able to be added without having to end the current contract.


Succession rights


It will be easier for certain groups of people, including some carers, to take over a person’s occupation contract on their death (‘succession’).


Abandonment


There will be a new procedure for landlords to obtain possession of a property that has been abandoned.


When are these changes going to happen?


The Welsh Government were originally planning for these changes to happen on the 15 July 2022. This has now been delayed until the 1 December 2022.


Are there any other changes?


The Welsh Government have already changed the law on letting fees, banning many fees charged by landlords or agents to prospective or current tenants. To find out what you can and cannot now be charged, click here.



Phone an adviser

If you have an urgent housing problem, call our expert housing advice helpline


Email an adviser

If you have a non-urgent problem and would like to speak to an adviser
email us

We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 08000 495 495.

Houses in multiple occupation

Houses in multiple occupation (HMO’s)


If the house or flat you share with other tenants is a house in multiple occupation (HMO) your landlord probably has extra legal responsibilities.

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE

If you are living in an HMO you must tell those you live with if you:

  • feel unwell and think you may have coronavirus
  • have been told to self-isolate.

You must minimise visiting shared spaces such as kitchens, bathrooms and sitting areas as much as possible.

If possible, find suitable alternative self-contained space until you are fully recovered. This could be in the same building.

If there is no separate area, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of infecting others:

  • keep shared spaces well ventilated if possible
  • stay 2 metres from other people and not do not share a bed with another person
  • if the toilet or bathroom facilities are shared, you should use a separate bathroom if possible. The bathroom should be cleaned and disinfected using regular cleaning products before being used by anyone else
  • if a separate bathroom is not available, consider drawing up a rota for washing or bathing, with the person who is unwell using the facilities last, before thoroughly cleaning the bathroom themselves (if they are able or it is appropriate)
  • use separate body and hand towels from other people
  • avoid using shared kitchens whilst others are present
  • do not share crockery and cutlery
  • take your meals back to your room to eat and use a dishwasher (if available) to clean and dry crockery and cutlery.

For Welsh Government guidance on self-isolating in shared accommodation, click here.


Do I live in an HMO?


Some houses or flats that are occupied by more than one household are classed as houses in multiple occupation (or HMO). Landlords of this type of property have extra legal responsibilities.

You may be living in an HMO if you live in a house or flat that is:

  • occupied by at least 3 tenants, forming more than one household, and
  • you share a toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities with other tenants.

This could include:

  • a house split into separate bedsits
  • a house or flat- share, where people have separate tenancy agreements
  • a hostel
  • a bed-and-breakfast hotel that is not just for holidays
  • students living in shared accommodation (although many halls of residence and other types of student accommodation that are owned by educational establishments are not classed as HMOs).

It is not always easy to work out whether you live in an HMO or not. If you’re not sure, get advice.


What responsibilities does the landlord of an HMO have?


The landlord’s most important responsibilities are to ensure that:

These rules exist to ensure that people living in HMOs have access to decent facilities, and to reduce the risk of fire. If you are experiencing problems contact the environmental health department of your local council and they may assess your property under The Housing Health Safety Rating System. This aims to ensure that your home doesn’t have any serious hazards, and allows a council to take action against landlords whose properties are dangerous.


Does my landlord need a licence?


There are three types of licensing scheme for HMOs in Wales. Licensing schemes are designed to improve the standards of HMOs by placing certain obligations on landlords and agents:

Rent Smart Wales

Any private landlord of a property (including an HMO) must be registered with the Rent Smart Wales scheme.

In addition, whoever does the letting and management of the property must be licensed under the Rent Smart Wales scheme. This might be the landlord, the agent or both (if there is a split of responsibilities for letting and management). To obtain a licence the landlord or agent will need to pay a fee, declare that they are a ‘fit and proper’ person, and attend training about their rights and responsibilities.

A landlord can face penalties, including prosecution, if they are not registered and/or licensed with the scheme.

Many people living in HMOs have an assured shorthold tenancy. If you’re an assured shorthold tenant and your landlord or agent has not registered with the scheme, any section 21 notice (two months’ notice) your landlord gives you is not valid.

For more information on the Rent Smart Wales scheme see our page on Landlord registration and licensing.

Mandatory licensing

In addition to complying with the Rent Smart Wales scheme, your landlord must apply to their local council for a licence to rent out your property as an HMO if:

  • it is at least three storeys high;
  • contains five or more people;
  • has 2 or more households living in it;
  • tenants share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities.

The council will decide if a property meets an acceptable standard and is well managed before registering the property as an HMO.  Your landlord will need a separate licence for each HMO it owns.

A landlord can be prosecuted and fined for renting out an unlicensed HMO.

If you’re an assured shorthold tenant and the HMO should be licensed but isn’t, any section 21 notice (two months’ notice) your landlord gives you is not valid.

Selective licensing

Local councils can also choose to insist that other smaller HMOs in specific areas be licensed.

Check with your local council to find out what the requirements are in your area and if your landlord has registered your home as an HMO.


What can I do if my landlord doesn’t comply?


If you live in an HMO and you think your landlord is not fulfilling her/his responsibilities, contact Rent Smart Wales or your local council. The environmental health department at the council are normally responsible for dealing with complaints about HMOs.

The council can prosecute landlords of HMOs (or any manager they have employed) if they break the law. In extreme cases, the council can take over the management of the property.



Phone an adviser

If you have a housing problem, call our expert housing advice helpline
08000 495 495


Email an adviser

If you have a non-urgent problem and would like to speak to an adviser
email us

We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 08000 495 495.

Problems with housemates

Problems with housemates


Problems with housemates can be hard to resolve. What you can do usually depends on what the problem is and whose name the agreement is in.

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE

If you are living in shared accommodation you must tell those you live with if you:

  • feel unwell and think you may have coronavirus
  • have been advised to self-isolate.

You must minimise visiting shared spaces such as kitchens, bathrooms and sitting areas as much as possible.

If possible, find suitable alternative self-contained space until you are fully recovered. This could be in the same building.

If there is no separate area, there are steps you can take to minimise the risk of infecting others:

  • keep shared spaces well ventilated if possible
  • stay 2 metres from other people and not do not share a bed with another person
  • if the toilet or bathroom facilities are shared, you should use a separate bathroom if possible. The bathroom should be cleaned and disinfected using regular cleaning products before being used by anyone else
  • if a separate bathroom is not available, consider drawing up a rota for washing or bathing, with the person who is unwell using the facilities last, before thoroughly cleaning the bathroom themselves (if they are able or it is appropriate)
  • use separate body and hand towels from other people
  • avoid using shared kitchens whilst others are present
  • do not share crockery and cutlery
  • take your meals back to your room to eat and use a dishwasher (if available) to clean and dry crockery and cutlery.

For up to date Welsh Government guidance on self-isolating in shared accommodation, click here.


What is the problem?


Are they not paying their share of the rent? Are they noisy? Are they not doing their share of the household tasks? Or are you simply not getting on? The type of problem that you have influences what you can do about it.

For instance, if it’s a personality clash, discussing things may help. If talking doesn’t help there may be little you can do to change the situation.

However, if your housemates are making excessive noise or not paying their share of the rent, it may be possible for the landlord or the council to take action. But if you have a joint tenancy, or the tenancy is in the other person’s name, bear in mind that the landlord may decide to end the tenancy for everyone – not just the person causing problems.


Can you agree a solution?


The first step towards solving any problem with your housemates is to discuss the situation. Ensure each person makes it clear what s/he wants – you may be able to reach a satisfactory compromise before the problem gets too serious. Think about inviting an impartial person from outside your household to help negotiate.

Many problems in shared accommodation are to do with mundane things such as the washing-up, the volume of music or smoking in shared space. In these situations, if talking doesn’t help, the only options may be to put up with the situation or move out.


Can you ask the landlord for help?


If talking doesn’t sort the problem out it may be worth asking your landlord for help. In some cases s/he may be able to take action against the people responsible, although you can’t force them to do this. What your landlord can do depends on the type of tenancy you have and the particular problem in your household.


What about extreme cases?


In very extreme cases you may be able to get help from the council or the police. This is only likely to be possible in situations where:

  • another tenant has threatened you with violence
  • the noise or damage caused is so severe that it has become a serious nuisance
  • there is racial or sexual harassment.

If you are in any of these situations, get advice immediately.



Phone an adviser

If you have a housing problem, call our expert housing advice helpline
08000 495 495


Email an adviser

If you have a non-urgent problem and would like to speak to an adviser
email us

We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 08000 495 495.

Subtenants

What’s the difference between a lodger and a subtenant?


Subtenants rent from an intermediary tenant rather than the owner of the property. The owner of the property is sometimes called the head landlord, and the person in-between is sometimes called a mesne landlord.

A subtenancy can apply to anything from a single room to an entire property. The main difference is that the subtenant must have exclusive access to at least one room – usually a bedroom. Neither the mesne landlord nor the head landlord can enter the subtenant’s accommodation without permission.

Having a lodger is similar, but the lodger can’t stop the landlord from entering their room(s). The lodger may also receive some services, such as meals, laundry or cleaning. These things will depend on what was agreed at the start of the tenancy. Sub tenants may have stronger rights than lodgers.



What tenancy status do subtenants have?


As with any other type of tenant, subtenants’ status depends on:

  • the type of accommodation they live in
  • whether they share with the immediate landlord
  • the date they moved in
  • what the tenancy agreement says.

It is possible for subtenants to have any type of private tenancy if the conditions for that type of tenancy are met.

In most cases the following rules apply:

  • most subtenants are likely to be assured shorthold tenants
  • if the tenancy started before 15 January 1989 the subtenant is probably a regulated tenant
  • if the subtenant shares facilities such as the kitchen with the landlord or a member of her/his family, s/he is likely to be an excluded occupier.

There are exceptions, so get advice if you’re not sure of your status.


What rights do subtenants have?


Subtenants have the same rights as other tenants.

This includes rights to:

  • claim housing benefit to cover the rent
  • occupy the room(s) that they have exclusive use of without interference from other people (including the mesne tenant or the head landlord)
  • challenge rent increases
  • get repairs done.

However, the subtenants’ rights may change if the mesne tenancy ends (see below). This is particularly important if the immediate landlord has a fixed-term tenancy, such as an assured shorthold tenancy.


What happens if the mesne tenancy ends?


The subtenancy will be valid for as long as the mesne tenancy continues. But whether the subtenant has any rights after the mesne tenancy ends depends on whether the subtenancy is legal or not.

This depends on:

  • what type of tenancy the mesne landlord has
  • what it says in the mesne landlord’s tenancy agreement
  • whether the head landlord agreed to the subtenancy.

If the head landlord knowingly accepts rent directly from the subtenant, it may become legal. This is true even if the subtenancy was originally illegal (for example, if the mesne landlord’s tenancy agreement said subletting is not allowed). By accepting rent, the head landlord may be admitting that the subtenant has a right to live in the property. However, some landlords will get round this by saying that they are only accepting the money as something called a ‘charge for use and occupation’ and not as rent. This is a complicated area of law, so get advice.

If your landlord’s tenancy ends and your subtenancy remains illegal, it is worth trying to negotiate with the head landlord, but s/he can evict you very easily.



Phone an adviser

If you have a housing problem, call our expert housing advice helpline
08000 495 495


Email an adviser

If you have a non-urgent problem and would like to speak to an advisor
email us

We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 08000 495 495.

Lodgers

Lodgers


A lodger is someone who rents a room in her/his landlord’s home and who shares living space with her/him. Some lodgers receive services, such as meals or cleaning, as part of their agreement. Only certain people are allowed to take in lodgers. If you want to do so, you’ll need to work out how both you and your lodger’s rights are affected.

Bear in mind that a lodger’s landlord could be the owner of the property, or someone who rents the property from the owner.



What is the difference between a lodger and a subtenant?


A lodger rents a room in the landlord’s home. S/he may receive some services from the landlord, such as meals, laundry or cleaning.

A subtenant has exclusive use of at least one room (usually a bedroom) in the property. Even the landlord would need her/his permission to enter this area. The subtenant may have permission to put a lock on her/his door.

In reality, there is often little difference between the rights you have if you share facilities with the landlord.


Who can take in a lodger?


Homeowners can usually take in lodgers. Most mortgage agreements allow you to rent out a room in your home, but you generally need permission from your lender. Check your mortgage agreement to see what it says.

Most tenants can only take in a lodger if they:

  • rent a whole house or flat
  • have a spare room
  • get permission from their landlord before a lodger moves in.

Many council tenants and some housing-association tenants are automatically allowed to take in a lodger but most other tenants are not. Check the tenancy agreement to see what it says. If it doesn’t say anything at all, you probably do need permission, and if you break your agreement your landlord could try to evict you.


Will taking in a lodger affect my entitlement to benefits?


Yes. Taking in a lodger will probably affect the amount of benefits you get if you’re claiming. You will need to tell the Council’s housing benefit office and your local benefit office that you have taken in a lodger and how much rent you are receiving. This will be the case even if your lodger is living rent-free. If you simply don’t tell them, you may end up having to repay an overpayment, or be prosecuted for fraud.

Housing benefit
If you’re receiving housing benefit and you take in a lodger, the first £20 per week of rent that you receive from the lodger will not be counted as income when your entitlement is being calculated. If you also provide some meals to your lodger only half of any rent they pay each week above £20 will be counted as income. For example, if your lodger pays £50 per week for their room and some meals, £35 will not be treated as your income when the amount of housing benefit you are entitled to is being worked out. Your income from the lodger will be treated as being £15 per week.

If you just rent the room to your lodger and do not provide any meals, only the first £20 per week that you receive in rent will be disregarded. Anything above £20 will be treated as income. So, if the rent is £50 per week, £30 will be treated as income when the Council work out how much housing benefit you are entitled to.

Other welfare benefits
If you are receiving a means-tested benefit like income support (IS) and job seekers’ allowance (JSA), the first £20 each week that you receive in rent will not be counted as income. If you also provide some meals to your lodger, only half of what they pay you each week over £20 will be counted as income.

If you don’t provide meals, then all of the rent that you receive over £20 will be classed as income when the amount of benefit you are entitled to is being calculated.

Universal credit
If you are receiving universal credit, the rent that you get from your lodger is not counted at all as income. You will still need to tell the local benefits office that you have taken in a lodger.

Council tax
You will be responsible for the council tax. If you were previously living alone and were eligible for the 25% single person’s discount you will no longer be entitled to that once you have a lodger. You may able to claim to council tax reduction. You should contact your local council for more information.


Other things to consider before getting a lodger


Insurance
Renting out a room may also affect your contents insurance. Most insurers will put up premiums, but it’s still important to inform them if you want to be sure that your belongings are protected. If you don’t tell them, the insurance may not be valid.

Responsibilities as a landlord
As a landlord, you will have to ensure that you have an up to date gas safety certificate if you have gas appliances.


What tenancy status do lodgers have?


If a lodger shares facilities such as the kitchen and bathroom with the landlord, s/he will be an excluded occupier. Excluded occupiers have very few rights. The landlord will only have to give reasonable notice, which could be a very short amount of time, in order to evict them.

If you don’t share facilities, the person renting a room is probably a subtenant rather than a lodger. This means that the landlord may need a court order to evict her/him.

Should there be a written agreement?
It is a good idea to have a written agreement which clearly sets out the arrangements between you and the lodger for paying the rent and any deposit, the house rules and how the agreement can be ended. Both you and the lodger should sign the agreement and keep a copy each. Setting out the rights and responsibilities of landlord and lodger in writing from the start can help to avoid misunderstandings or disputes further on down the line.


Where can I find a lodger?


Some areas have lodging schemes which can help to match prospective lodgers to people with rooms available to rent. Your local council may be able to give you information about anything operating in your area. Some councils have accommodation websites where landlords can advertise rooms to rent free of charge. The Housing Department of your local council is a good starting point to find out what is available in your area.

If you live near a university, they may have a lodging scheme for students and may be able to advertise your room.

Put the word out to friends and family that you have a room to rent – they may know someone who is looking for a place live. Some people feel more comfortable renting a room out to someone they know, even if just through a friend, family member or acquaintance.

You can advertise your room in shop windows, on local notice boards or put an advert in the newspaper.


Choosing a suitable lodger


Remember, if you take in a lodger you will have to be prepared to share at least part of your home with them. Even if they have their own bedroom, you are likely to be sharing the kitchen and bathroom. Think carefully whether you are willing to do that before you commit to renting a room out.

When you meet a prospective lodger, think about whether they will fit in with your household. You can ask them for references from previous landlords and could do a credit check.

If you have children at home, you may want to ask your lodger for a police check, but there is a fee payable.


What happens if the landlord’s tenancy ends?


A lodger or subtenant can continue to live in the accommodation as long as the immediate landlord has the right to stay there (i.e. as long as her/his tenancy continues, or as long as s/he owns the property).

However if her/his tenancy ends, or the property is being repossessed by a mortgage lender, the lodger’s rights depend on:

  • what type of tenancy the landlord has
  • what the landlord’s tenancy agreement says about subletting
  • whether the head landlord agreed to the lodger or subtenant living there.

If the head landlord accepts rent directly from the lodger or subtenant, the lodger or subtenant may well have more rights. By accepting rent the landlord may be admitting that the person has a right to live in the accommodation. This is a complicated area of law so get advice if you are in this situation.



Phone an adviser

If you have a housing problem, call our expert housing advice helpline
08000 495 495


Email an adviser

If you have a non-urgent problem and would like to speak to an advisor
email us

We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 08000 495 495.

Things to agree in advance

Things you’ll need to agree in advance


Whoever you decide to live with, it helps if everyone agrees on some ground rules before moving in together. If everything’s clear from the start, it could save major rows later on.

Check that everyone understands what type of agreement they will have and what it means. Whose name it is in will make a big difference to your legal rights.

If you are moving in with a partner, take a look at our ‘moving in together‘ checklist.



Does the head landlord or lender know you’re living there?


If you’re moving in as a lodger or subtenant, ask the person you’re renting from whether they have permission from their landlord or mortgage lender to rent a room out. If they don’t, you won’t have many rights. If the landlord or lender decides to evict the person you’re living with, you will have to leave too.


Are there are any house rules?


Just going with the flow rarely works.

If you can, find out:

  • Which part of the house or flat will be your part?
  • Are there any rooms you’re not allowed to go into without permission?
  • Is there a cleaning rota, to save arguments over the washing-up?
  • Is there a no-smoking rule?
  • Can girlfriends or boyfriends stay over regularly?
  • What about other guests?
  • Will everyone socialise together, or will you all lead separate lives?
  • What’s the policy on parties?
  • What do the other people in the flat do? If they work, what are their hours? Will you be queuing for the bathroom in the morning? Or will you have to keep quiet during the day so flatmates working nightshifts can sleep?
  • Are you allowed pets? Does anyone else in the flat own pets?
  • Will anyone be claiming benefits? If so, living with other people may affect the amount they receive. For example, if your friend or partner is claiming housing benefit, it will probably be reduced if you move into her/his place – even if you don’t pay any rent. If s/he doesn’t tell the housing benefit department that you are living there s/he could end up having to pay an overpayment back or be prosecuted for fraud.

Who pays for what?


Most people who live together argue about money occasionally. But it helps if you’re clear about certain things from the start:

  • How much rent you will pay, when and how it will be due, and who you will pay it to.
  • How you will divide up household bills – especially the phone.
  • Is there a kitty for communal items like toilet roll and washing-up liquid?
  • What happens if somebody breaks something? Does it come out of your shared deposit or does the person who broke it have to pay for it?
  • What’s the situation with council tax?

If you live alone, you will probably receive a 25% discount on your council tax bill. You will no longer be entitled to this if someone else moves in. If you live in a household comprised entirely of students, you won’t need to pay any council tax at all, but if one person isn’t a student, you will get a full bill.



Phone an adviser

If you have a housing problem, call our expert housing advice helpline
08000 495 495


Email an adviser

If you have a non-urgent problem and would like to speak to an advisor
email us

We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 08000 495 495.

Whose name the agreement is in

Is the agreement in your name?


Thinking of moving in with someone? You’ll need to decide whether to have separate tenancies, a joint tenancy, or a tenancy in only one person’s name. This decision will have a big impact on your rights.

If all of the people living in the property signed one tenancy agreement with the landlord when you moved in, you will have a joint tenancy agreement.

Alternatively, if each person in your household signed a separate agreement with the landlord, you are likely to have separate tenancies and may have different rights depending on when each of you moved in.

If one or more people in your household have a tenancy agreement with the landlord but you don’t (for example, if you’ve moved in with a friend and have made an agreement with her/him, but not with her/his landlord) you have very limited rights.



What rights do joint tenants have?


If you have a joint tenancy agreement, all the tenants have exactly the same rights. You are all equally responsible for paying the rent and keeping to the terms of your agreement . If one tenant is not paying the rent or causing other problems you could end up having to pay her/his share, or any other costs. Your landlord may be entitled to keep the deposit if there is any rent owing or damage to the property at the end of the tenancy.

If one joint tenant ends the tenancy, everyone will have to leave unless those that want to stay can negotiate a new tenancy with the landlord. This is a complicated area and you should get advice.

Similarly, the landlord cannot evict one joint tenant without evicting all of you. However, s/he may decide to offer a new tenancy to the remaining tenants once the original tenancy has ended. Talk to your landlord about this if you want to stay.

If the tenants have disagreements, they are responsible for sorting them out between themselves. Only in extreme cases will the landlord or anyone else get involved.


What rights do people with separate tenancies have?


If you and your housemates have separate agreements with the same landlord, each of you is responsible only for your own rent. This is probably the case even if you share a kitchen or bathroom, particularly if you moved in at different times, or your landlord found each tenant individually.

You may all have different types of tenancy agreement and some of you may have more rights than others.

If you have separate tenancy agreements and one of the other tenants is causing problems, your landlord may decide to evict her/him. If this does happen it won’t affect your tenancy.


What rights do I have if the tenancy is not in my name?


If you live with one or more people who have a tenancy with the landlord but you don’t, you are effectively a subtenant of the main tenant(s). This means that the person who has made an agreement with the landlord:

  • is effectively your landlord
  • may only have to give you reasonable notice if s/he wants you to leave (this notice could be a very short amount of time and could be verbal)
  • is responsible for paying the rent and bills. Everyone else should still pay their share, but if they don’t, the person on the tenancy agreement is ultimately responsible for coming up with the money.

Check whether the main tenant has permission from their landlord to rent a room out to you, as this may affect your rights. These situations can be very complicated so get advice if you have problems



Phone an adviser

If you have a housing problem, call our expert housing advice helpline
08000 495 495


Email an adviser

If you have a non-urgent problem and would like to speak to an advisor
email us

We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 08000 495 495.

Choosing who to live with

Who should I live with?


Do you want to live on your own, in a house or flat-share, with your girlfriend or boyfriend, or with a friend?

Moving in with someone is a big step. Make sure you think carefully and weigh up the pros and cons before you decide.



Living on your own


Living on your own offers you plenty of freedom and independence, but it can be lonely. Are you prepared to do everything for yourself, from cooking and cleaning to paying the bills, and to come home to an empty house?

It is generally accepted that living on your own is the most expensive way to live. Living with other people is a good way to share the costs. Council and housing association homes are usually more affordable, but you may have a long wait.


Living with a landlord or a member of her/his family


If you share with a landlord, you will have very limited rights. Remember: the person you pay your rent to is your landlord. So if you move into a mate’s place as a lodger or subtenant, according to the law, they will be your landlord.

Living with your landlord or a member of their family will have a big impact on how easily you can be evicted. You are likely to be an excluded occupier if:

  • you share living space with your landlord, even if s/he’s your friend or partner. Kitchens, bathrooms and living rooms count as living space, but hallways and entrances normally don’t
  • you live in the same building as the landlord (unless it’s a purpose-built block of flats) and share living space with a member of her/his family.

Excluded occupiers can be evicted more easily because they are only entitled to reasonable notice if the landlord wants them to leave. Reasonable notice could mean that they get only a short amount of time, and the warning may be verbal.

If you live in the same building as the landlord but don’t share any living space with her/him, you are probably an occupier with basic protection. Your rights are still limited but you are entitled to a court order if the landlord wants you to leave.

If you are renting a home from a ‘close relative’ of you or your partner and they live in the same house, you won’t be able to get housing benefit.


Shared flats and houses


Sharing a house or flat is usually cheaper than living on your own, and can be great fun. However, you may find that even people you really like can get on your nerves when you’re living together. Everyone will have to learn to compromise, to pay their own way and to do their share of the housework if you want things to work out.

If you live in a house or flat that contains more than one household (such as a bed and breakfast, or a house split into bedsits) it might be legally classed as a house in multiple occupation (or HMO). If this is the case, the landlord has extra legal responsibilities to ensure that the property is managed properly.


Moving in with your partner


Moving in with a partner is an exciting prospect, but it can put a strain on your relationship, especially if you haven’t been together very long.

It’s not always a good idea to move in together simply because it’s cheaper than renting separately. You may enjoy staying over at their place for a few nights, but if you’re there all the time, you could get sick of each other. Romance could soon dry up if you spend all your time nagging each other, so discuss it properly, agree some ground rules and make sure you’re ready for it. Use our ‘Moving in together checklist to help you.

If the worst happens, and you split up, get advice immediately. Your rights can vary a lot, depending on your circumstances and your status.


Moving in with friends


Moving in with friends can be a good solution. But you still need to be clear what the arrangements are. Your rights will be very different if you move into your mate’s place as a lodger or subtenant, than they will if you have joint or separate tenancies in a shared house or flat.

If you have to leave your current home and have nowhere else to go, staying on a mate’s sofa might be a good solution for a short time. But it can become problematic in the longer term. You may feel like you are getting in the way, and you will have very limited rights if they want you to leave. If you are in this situation, get advice immediately – you are probably experiencing ‘hidden homelessness‘ and you should be entitled to help from the council.


What else should I think about?


Finding someone to live with is only the first step.

You should also check whose name the tenancy will be in, and what type of tenancy you’ll have. These issues will have a big effect on your rights, especially if you ever fall out. Also, setting a few ground rules when you move in may save major arguments later on.



Phone an adviser

If you have a housing problem, call our expert housing advice helpline
08000 495 495


Email an adviser

If you have a non-urgent problem and would like to speak to an adviser
email us

We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 08000 495 495.

Secure tenancies

Secure housing association tenancies


Secure tenants have relatively stronger rights than other housing association tenants, although most people that have secure housing association tenancies have been renting their homes since before 1989.



How can I check if I am a secure housing association tenant?


If you live in self-contained housing association accommodation and your tenancy started before 15 January 1989, you are likely to be a secure tenant. However, there are some exceptions, including if:

  • your tenancy has been demoted because of antisocial behaviour
  • you live in a hostel or supported housing run by a housing association
  • your property was transferred from the council to a housing association via stock transfer
  • you work for the council and your home comes with your job
  • you have changed housing association following a mutual exchange after 15 January 1989
  • you are the tenant of a housing co-operative or a non-mutual housing association.

If you moved into your current home after 15 January 1989, but had a secure tenancy in a different property owned by the same association before that date, your tenancy is probably still secure.

Your tenancy agreement should tell you what kind of tenancy you have and explain your rights and responsibilities. The housing association can’t normally make changes to your tenancy agreement without your written consent.


Can I be evicted?


As a secure tenant, you have the right to live in your home as long as you don’t break the rules of your tenancy agreement. The housing association should only evict you as a last resort. They must have a legal reason (known as a ground) and get a court order. In some cases it may have to offer you a suitable home elsewhere. The most common reasons for eviction include:

  • not paying the rent
  • causing nuisance to neighbours
  • using the property for illegal activities
  • living in another property and/or subletting your home without the housing association’s permission.

If you are being taken to court by your housing association, or even have a date when the bailiffs are going to evict you, get in touch with an adviser immediately to find out whether the eviction can be stopped or delayed. An adviser can check whether there is any way you can put things right, such as claiming benefits or settling a neighbour dispute. An adviser may be able to help you put together the legal arguments you will need to form your defence, or advise you on what options you have if you do lose your home.

For more information, see our pages on eviction of housing association tenants.


What are the rules about rent and rent increases?


All secure tenants pay ‘fair rents’. There are rules about how and when the rent can be increased. Your tenancy agreement should include an explanation on the procedures involved.

Your rent should always be your top financial priority – even if you have other debts – because you could lose your home if you get into rent arrears. You may be able to claim Housing Benefit to help pay the rent if you are on benefits or have a low income. An adviser will be able to check whether you are claiming everything you are entitled to.


Who is responsible for repairs?


The housing association should give you information about what repairs you are responsible for, which usually includes internal decoration and putting right any damage you cause.

The housing association is usually responsible for most other repairs, including any problems with the roof, guttering, windows, doors and brickwork. They also have to ensure that the plumbing, gas and electricity are working safely. If your home needs repairs, report the problem to the housing association immediately.

If the housing association plans to do major work, it should consult you before the work begins. If you have to move out while the work is done, the housing association will probably have to rehouse you (temporarily or permanently), and you may be entitled to claim compensation.

For more information, see our pages on repairs in social housing.


Can I take in lodgers or sublet my home?


As a secure tenant you automatically have the right to take in a lodger and can probably sublet part of your home (such as a bedroom) if you get written permission from the housing association first. Check to see what your tenancy agreement says about lodgers and subletting. The housing association can’t refuse permission without a good reason, but one reason might be if your home was to become overcrowded with someone else moving in.

However, if you are claiming benefits, bear in mind that the amount you get could be reduced, even if your lodger or subtenant doesn’t pay you any rent. This also applies to partners or adult family members who move in with you.

If you move out and sublet the whole of your home to someone else, you will lose your secure status and the housing association will be able to end your tenancy very easily. However, it is possible to spend time living somewhere else and still keep your tenancy. To do this, you must be able to show that you are planning to return (for example, by leaving your personal belongings at home). If you need to spend time living elsewhere, get advice before you move out.


Can I pass on my tenancy when I die?


The legal process is called succession, and it can normally only happen once.

If you have a joint tenancy, the other joint tenant will automatically take over the tenancy if you die. But, if you are the sole tenant, there are rules about who the tenancy can be passed on to.

A successor must be living in the property as their ‘only or principal home.’ A surviving husband, wife or registered civil partner will have priority over any other family member to inherit the tenancy. If you are another member of the family, it is possible that you can succeed to the tenancy but only if you have lived with the tenant for the past 12 months.

For more information, see our page on succession rights.


Can I pass on my tenancy during my lifetime?


This process is called assignment. As a secure tenant you have the right to assign your tenancy to any person who would be eligible to take on the tenancy by succession (see above). But if you want to do this, get advice first. If the correct process isn’t followed, you could still be legally responsible for paying the rent and the person who stays on could be evicted.


Can I get a transfer or exchange my home?


If you want to move, it may be possible to get a transfer to another property owned by your housing association. Many housing associations have a waiting list for tenants who want a transfer. However, you may have to wait a long time until a new property is available, particularly if you have a large family.

Alternatively, you may be able to swap homes by mutual exchange with someone who rents from the same housing association, a different housing association or a local council. It may be possible to exchange with someone locally or in another part of the country.


Can I buy my own place?


The right to acquire scheme was abolished in Wales on the 26 January 2019. Unless you made an application under that scheme before that date, and your home was in an area where the right had not previously been suspended, then you will not be able to buy your home.

Take a look at the Welsh Government booklet for more information. (The booklet is available in other languages here).

Alternatively, you may be able to buy a home through a number of other home-ownership schemes designed to help tenants get onto the property ladder. These include :

Ask your housing association or local council about the schemes that are available locally.


Can I get involved in the management of my home?


Your housing association should consult and involve you in decisions that are likely to affect you. You might be able to join a tenants’ committee and help in the running of the housing association.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it has to act on your wishes. Ask the housing association for more information about how you can get involved, and how final decisions will be made.


Where can I find out more about my rights?


The Welsh Government has produced a Regulatory Framework which all housing associations registered in Wales should follow. This Framework sets out important standards which each housing association should meet and explains what tenants can expect.

You should also check your tenancy agreement and tenants’ handbook, because some housing associations give their tenants additional rights. If you are in any doubt about a legal issue, you can always check with your local Shelter Cymru office.


What if I want to make a complaint?


If you feel that the housing association isn’t treating you fairly or has failed to fulfil its responsibilities, you should use its official complaints procedure. You usually have to do this before you can take things any further.

If you’re not happy with the response you get, you can complain further to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.



Phone an adviser

If you have a housing problem, call our expert housing advice helpline
08000 495 495


Email an adviser

If you have a non-urgent problem and would like to speak to an advisor
email us

We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 08000 495 495.

Starter tenancies

Starter tenancies


A housing association will give you a starter tenancy as a 12-month trial period at the beginning of your tenancy. During this time you will have less rights, so you can be evicted more easily. Most starter tenancies are assured shorthold tenancies.

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Am I a starter tenant?


You will probably have a starter tenancy if:

  • your housing association has a policy that all new tenancies will be starter tenancies, or
  • you live in a designated area for starter tenancies, and
  • the length of time specified for the starter tenancy (normally 12 months) has not yet ended.

How does a starter tenancy affect my rights?


A starter tenancy is a trial tenancy. They are not created by law, but are assured shorthold tenancies. It will give you less rights and less protection from eviction than a secure or assured tenant has. Most housing associations will give you a starter tenancy for the first year, but you should check to see what it says in your tenancy agreement.

At the end of the starter tenancy you should automatically become an assured tenant if your housing association does not take steps to evict you. If you have a joint tenancy, the trial period ends as soon as one of the joint tenants has completed the trial period. Anytime you have spent as a starter tenant with another housing association should count towards the trial period, but you should check to see if it says otherwise in your agreement.


Can I be evicted?


Yes. Starter tenants can be evicted fairly easily. Housing associations can only bring a starter tenancy to an end by obtaining a court order for possession. It doesn’t have to prove a legal reason (known as a ground) in court, and if it follows the correct procedure the judge will have no choice but to order an eviction. Your housing association must give you at least two months’ written notice that it is going to ask the court to evict you but doesn’t have to explain its reasons why.

In very limited circumstances, you may be able to argue before the court that the decision of the housing association to evict you was unlawful or that your eviction would not be proportionate. This is a developing area of law and you will need to seek advice from an experienced adviser before raising such an argument.

Even if you have been taken to court by your housing association or have a date when the bailiffs are coming, get in touch with an adviser immediately to find out whether the eviction can be delayed or even stopped. Some advisers may be able to help you by checking that the correct procedure has been followed, or by advising you on what options you have if you do lose your home. Find an adviser in your area.

For more information, see our pages on eviction of housing association tenants.


What are the rules about rent and rent increases?


There are rules about how and when the rent can be increased. Your tenancy agreement should explain the procedure. In most cases you should be given at least four weeks’ written notice of a rent increase. Your rent cannot be increased during the starter tenancy unless you agree to it. If you think your rent has been increased unfairly, you may be able to appeal to the Rent Assessment Committee (RAC). You must apply for an appeal before the date that your rent is due to go up. An adviser can tell you if it is worth appealing and may be able to help you put your case to the RAC.

Your rent should always be your top financial priority – even if you have other debts – because you could lose your home if you get into rent arrears. Make sure you tell your housing association immediately if you are having difficulty with paying either the rent or service charges, because it should give you help and information about benefits that you could be eligible for. If you are claiming benefits or are on a low income, you may be eligible for Housing Benefit or Universal Credit housing costs to help you pay the rent.


Who is responsible for repairs?


The housing association should give you information about what repairs you are responsible for , which usually includes internal decoration and putting right any damage you cause.

The housing association is usually responsible for most other repairs, including any problems with the roof, guttering, windows, doors and brickwork. It also has to ensure that the plumbing, gas and electricity are working safely. If your home needs repairs, report the problem to the housing association immediately.

If the housing association plans to do major work, it should consult you before the work begins. If you have to move out while the work is done, the housing association may have to rehouse you (temporarily or permanently), and you may be entitled to claim compensation.

For more information, see our pages on repairs in social housing.


Can I pass on my tenancy when I die?


Yes, starter tenancies can be passed on in the same way as assured tenancies. If you have a joint tenancy, the other joint tenant will automatically take over the tenancy if you die. But, if you are the sole tenant, there are rules about who the tenancy can be passed on to. The legal process is called succession, and it can normally only happen once.


Can I pass on my tenancy during my lifetime?


This process is called assignment. Most starter tenants can only assign their tenancy if the housing association agrees to it. If your tenancy agreement doesn’t say anything about assignment, you will need permission from the association. In this case, the housing association can refuse an assignment for any reason, whether you think this is reasonable or not. If you want to assign your tenancy, get advice first. If the correct procedure isn’t followed, you could still be legally responsible for paying the rent and the person who stays on could be evicted.


Can I get a transfer or exchange my home?


If you are a starter tenant you will not normally be able to exchange or transfer your home. However, look at what it says in your tenancy agreement or speak to your housing association.


Can I buy my own place?


No. Housing association tenants no longer have the right to buy their home.

However, you may be able to buy a home through a number of other home-ownership schemes.


Getting involved in the management of your home


Your housing association should consult and involve you in decisions that are likely to affect you. You might be able to join a tenants’ committee and help in the running of the housing association.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it has to act on your wishes. Ask the housing association for more information about how you can get involved, and how final decisions will be made.


Where can I find out more about my rights?


Your tenancy agreement should state what kind of tenancy you have and explain your rights and responsibilities. The housing association can’t normally make changes to it without your written consent. You should also check your tenants’ handbook, because some housing associations give their tenants additional rights.

The Welsh Government has produced a Regulatory Framework which all housing associations registered in Wales should follow. This Framework sets out important standards which each housing association should meet and explains what tenants can expect.

Alternatively, visit advice near you to find a Shelter Cymru adviser in your area.


What if I want to make a complaint?


If you feel that the housing association isn’t treating you fairly or has failed to fulfil its responsibilities, you should use its official complaints procedure. You usually have to do this before you can take things any further.

If you’re not happy with the response you get, you can complain further to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.



Phone an adviser

If you have a housing problem, call our expert housing advice helpline
08000 495 495


Email an adviser

If you have a non-urgent problem and would like to speak to an advisor
email us

We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 08000 495 495.