Property law changes in Wales

The introduction of the devolved government has gradually led to a number of changes for those buying a property in Wales.

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Generally, the law and rules relating to property matters and conveyancing are the same in England and Wales. There is a completely different system for the sale and purchase of land in Scotland - but England and Wales have always been the same. However, the introduction of the devolved government has gradually led to a number of changes which means that someone buying a property in Wales should obtain the advice of a lawyer specialising in this area.

There are a few changes being introduced as follows:

Land transaction tax

From 1 April 2018, land transaction tax (LTT) will replace UK stamp duty land tax (SDLT) in Wales.

Changes have been made to:

  • simplify the tax and make it fairer
  • improve its efficiency and effectiveness; and
  • focus on Welsh needs and priorities.

The Welsh government has announced new rates and bands for both residential and commercial property transactions. The rates are ‘progressive’, which means that buyers of lower-value properties will pay less LTT compared with SDLT, while the buyers of more expensive properties will pay, in some cases, more LTT than SDLT.

Right to Buy

The maximum discount for right to buy in Wales is now £8,000 and five Councils have suspended right to buy for five years. Right to buy in Wales will be abolished completely.

Private lettings

Private domestic landlords in Wales have to be licensed and registered and any private domestic premises in Wales must be registered with Rent Smart Wales. Failure to comply with these provisions could result in the tenant recovering their rent.

Welsh landlords will also face the abolition of the assured tenancy and the assured shorthold tenancy (AST) at some point in the future. The AST has been the main form of short term tenancy agreement in England and Wales since 1989. Its major attraction for landlords is that they are able to regain possession of their premises at the end of the tenancy without having to show that the tenant is in rent arrears or has otherwise breached the terms of the tenancy agreement. There will be a new form of tenancy agreement introduced and the whole residential letting sector in Wales will need to get to grips with these changes.

To discuss these or any other related issue, contact us.

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