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Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016

Tenancies and licences

3.Generally, people who live in a home they do not own do so under a tenancy or licence. A tenancy is a contract between two or more persons (a tenant or tenants and a landlord) under which the tenant lives in the home. The tenant (and people who live with him or her) does not have to share the dwelling with anyone else, because the tenant has an interest in the land which is subject to the tenancy. Rent is payable by the tenant. A tenancy gives rights to, and imposes obligations on, both the tenant and the landlord.

4.A licence is also a contract between two or more persons (a licensee or licensees and a landlord). The licensee is allowed to live in the dwelling which is the subject of the licence. A key legal difference between a tenancy and licence is that a licensee does not have an interest in the relevant land, and in practice the main difference between a tenancy and a licence is that a licensee does not have the right to sole occupation of the home. So, for example, a lodger will usually be a licensee.

5.The Act will not change this; a person who rents a home in Wales will rent it under a tenancy or licence. But in many respects that distinction will be less important in practice, because the Act makes virtually no distinction between tenancies and licences.

6.The diagram below illustrates how occupation contracts relate to the various kinds of tenancies and licences in existence before they were abolished by the Act.

7.In effect, the occupation contract, with all of its rights and obligations, will sit on top of the tenancy or licence with a view to helping the parties to the tenancy or licence to have clarity as to what their rights and obligations are, and what the other party’s rights and obligations are, regardless of the legal basis for the occupation.

8.This means that, under the Act, the key questions for a tenant or licensee will be:


whether or not they live in their home under an occupation contract, and


if so, what kind of occupation contract they have with their landlord.

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Explanatory Notes

Text created by the Welsh Government department responsible for the subject matter of the Act to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes accompany all Acts of the National Assembly for Wales.


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