The Renting Homes (Wales) Act has had a long gestation. It has shown little signs of progress since it was passed back in 2016. However, a commitment has been made to bring it into force within the life of the current assembly, that is before May 2021.
While the signs of progress toward that goal have been limited it is now clear that a lot is happening behind the scenes. In answer to a written question the Minister for Housing and Local Government has given an indication of what standards will be required from rental properties under Renting Homes.
Some standards are set out in the Act itself. For example, section 91 of the Act requires landlords to keep homes fit for habitation. However, the standard for fitness is unclear at the moment. In fact, section 94 is more free-form and it obliges the relevant Welsh Minister to make regulations specifying what the standard for fitness is.
In response to a written question from Darren Millar AM, the Minister has indicate that regulations will require that a property is only fit if a landlord has:
- installed working carbon monoxide and smoke alarms; and
- undertaken an electrical safety test at least every five years.
While this does not give much detail, it does indicate how the Welsh government is moving and also shows that they are working on the Act behind the scenes. In fact, the standards proposed are not so different from those in England. In England landlords must have smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms where they have solid fuel appliances. There is also an intention to make regulations shortly to require all landlords to have electrical safety checks every five years. So, in fact, Wales and England are likely to require fairly similar standards as to property safety over time.