Renting Homes

Current project status

  • Initiation: Could include discussing scope and terms of reference with lead Government Department
  • Pre-consultation: Could include approaching interest groups and specialists, producing scoping and issues papers, finalising terms of project
  • Consultation: Likely to include consultation events and paper, making provisional proposals for comment
  • Policy development: Will include analysis of consultation responses. Could include further issues papers and consultation on draft Bill
  • Reported: Usually recommendations for law reform but can be advice to government, scoping report or other recommendations

This project is complete. Our recommendations have been accepted in Wales and rejected in England. The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 was granted Royal Assent on 18 January 2016.

Nearly a third of the population of Wales – just under 400,000 households – rent their homes.  The law governing their relationship with their landlords is an irrationally complicated mess. This project seeks to replace it with a modernised, understandable, and just legal structure.

The project

The Welsh Government announced in 2012 that it would be taking forward legislation to implement Renting Homes in Wales.  On 9 April 2013, we published the report “Renting Homes in Wales” (Law Com No 337). The report updated the original Renting Homes proposals and addressed any possible devolution issues arising from their implementation in Wales by legislation in the National Assembly.  This report is based on the recommendations in “Renting Homes: The Final Report” (Law Com No 297), which was published in two volumes:

  • Volume 1 explains our recommendations and contains an illustrative model secure contract and standard periodic contract
  • Volume 2 contains the draft Rented Homes Bill

In November 2003 we issued, “Renting Homes” (Law Com No 284), in advance of our draft Bill and final report. This early report recommended a new legal regime built on a consumer approach to the law, under which everyone renting a home would have access to a definitive written agreement clearly setting out their rights and obligations.

During the course of the project we issued two consultation papers:

  • Renting Homes 1: Status and Security, April 2002 (CP 162)
  • Renting Homes 2: Co-occupation, Transfer and Succession, November 2002 (CP 168)

A substantial number of people were involved in our extensive consultation process. We had over 600 formal, written responses to the two consultation papers and members of the team addressed over 100 conferences, seminars, workshops and other meetings on the proposals.

Our recommendations

In our final report, we recommend a simple system of secure and standard contracts, in place of the existing multiplicity of tenancy and licence types.

Landlords and occupiers would benefit from:

  • Identical contracts for council and housing association tenants. This will increase the security of the nearly 1.5 million housing association tenant households.
  • Improvements to council and housing association tenants’ rights; eg better succession rights and the right to apply to add a partner or flatmate to the contract.
  • Model contracts approved by the Government/Welsh Ministers to make private renting easier, cheaper and more flexible.
  • A clear and practical legal framework for supported housing, which provides accommodation for people with drink, drug or mental health problems, women’s refuges, etc.

Our recommendations would allow for the abolition of:

  • secure tenancies
  • assured tenancies
  • assured shorthold tenancies
  • introductory tenancies
  • demoted tenancies
  • various varieties of common law tenancies

The only major existing form of tenancy not to be abolished would be Rent Act tenancies, but there would be a power for the Secretary of State/Welsh Assembly Government to do so.

Law Commissioner

This project, to modernise and simplify the law on housing tenure, was led between 2001 and 2005 by Professor Martin Partington CBE in his role as Law Commissioner, and thereafter as Special Consultant to the Law Commission.

Documents and downloads

Project details

Area of law

Public law