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18 September 2014

Housing Bill (Wales) becomes Law

From Welsh Government's Website

Wales’ first ever Housing Act means that even more can be done to make a difference to people and communities in Wales, now and in the future.

Housing is an integral part of daily life for everyone. The benefits of having a decent, affordable, home in good condition are considerable. It is an important influence on our health and well being, education, the ability to hold down a job, access to leisure activities and local communities. It represents the best possible start in life for children and is the foundation for strong, safe and fair communities. It also makes an important contribution to our goals of reducing poverty and inequalities within some of our communities. Housing also has an important role to play in relation to the economy: building new homes and repairing existing homes generates jobs, apprenticeships and training opportunities.

To make a real difference, we must consider how the whole housing system works and this Act makes changes only where they are sensible and effective. This means putting in place an effective combination of legislation, funding, policies and programmes across our housing, planning and regeneration areas.

Key elements

The key elements of the Act are:

  • introduction of a compulsory registration and licensing scheme for private rented sector landlords and letting and management agents
  • reform of homelessness law, including placing a stronger duty on local authorities to prevent homelessness and allowing them to use suitable accommodation in the private sector
  • placing a duty on local authorities to provide sites for Gypsies and Travellers where a need has been identified
  • introduction of standards for local authorities on rents, service charges and quality of accommodation
  • reform of the Housing Revenue Account Subsidy system
  • giving local authorities the power to charge more than the standard rate of council tax on long-term empty properties and certain types of second homes
  • assisting the provision of housing by Co-operative Housing Associations, and
  • amendment of the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993.


Background

In December 2011, the then Minister for Housing, Regeneration and Heritage, Huw Lewis AM, issued his vision and priorities paper, Meeting the Housing Challenge: Building a Consensus for Action for consultation.

This was followed by a White Paper for Better Lives and Communities published for consultation in May 2012. Many people and organisations responded to the consultation and a summary of the responses was published in October 2012. These contributions and further engagement with our external partners helped in the development of the Bill.

Wales’ first Housing (Wales) Bill was introduced into the National Assembly for Wales on 18 November 2013, setting out an ambitious programme of action and taking forward proposals set out in the White Paper.

The Bill proposed to enable the improvement of the private rented sector, better standards in social housing, help to meet people’s housing needs and prevent homelessness, enhance our communities and help prevent the difficulties and lack of opportunities often encountered by vulnerable people. Working together will help us achieve the aims of the Act; to improve the supply, quality and standards of housing in Wales.

The participation of stakeholders as the Bill was scrutinised by the National Assembly for Wales was key to ensuring it was developed into a final Bill that would make an improvement to housing in Wales.

On 8 July 2014, the National Assembly for Wales passed the Housing (Wales) Bill. The Bill received Royal Assent on 17 September 2014 and formally became the Housing (Wales) Act 2014.