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Greater security for private renters

Private renters in Wales are set to get guaranteed minimum of 12 months’ protection against eviction at the start of a new tenancy if they have not breached the terms of their contract

Housing and local government minister Julie James is due to introduce the Renting Homes (Amendment) (Wales) Bill before the Senedd today (Monday).

The Bill  is aimed at increasing security for renters whole also enabling landlords to get timely possession of their property when necessary.

It will increase to six months the period at the start of a new let during which a landlord’s notice cannot be issued. It will also increase the minimum notice period a landlord must give when seeking to end a contract where there has been no breach of its terms, from two months to six months. Combined, these changes will provide 12 months’ security of occupation for contract holders where there is no breach of contract.

Welsh Government says that landlords’ property rights will continue to be protected through the retention of their ability to issue a possession notice with a shorter notice period – one month – if the contract has been breached.

The Bill amends Section 173 of the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 (which is similar to Section 21 in England. If AMs pass the legislation, it is expected to come into force in the Spring of 2021.

Julie James said:

‘I believe the Renting Homes (Wales) Act, as amended, will provide a sound basis for renting in Wales: balancing the needs and rights of both tenants and landlords and helping ensure our PRS is a well-managed option for households.’

However, the Residential Landlords Association said mandatory year-long contracts could have a ‘devastating impact’ on the supply of homes for rent.

Douglas Haig, RLA vice chair and director for Wales said:

‘While we acknowledge the minister has recognised the complete removal of Section 21 would be bad for the sector, we are disappointed with today’s proposals.

‘It is absolutely essential that landlords with a legitimate reason to repossess their property are able to do so. If they do not many could opt to leave the market altogether – leaving renters with fewer options and potentially pushing rents up.’

He said that landlords were currently five times more likely to use Section 21 no-fault evictions rather than Section 8 procedures for breach of contract due to lengthy court waiting times.

‘Despite this, proposals do not include any plans to reform the grounds process, something we believe is vital before any change of this kind is made, to avoid a devastating cut to the supply of homes to rent in Wales at a time when demand continues to grow.’

Shelter Cymru said the legislation would not no-fault evictions entirely but would improve the situation for tenants. Campaigns manager Jenny Bibbings said:

‘In our casework we work with tenants who are often thrown into a crisis situation when they suddenly receive a section 21 notice. Because two months is totally inadequate to pack up your whole home and find somewhere new, this often leads to people having to move into new homes that are many miles from their kids’ schools for example, or that don’t meet their needs in other ways, just because that’s all they can find within the timescale. It also increases pressure on homelessness services because people end up having to seek help because they simply can’t find anywhere else to live.’

‘Despite what some landlords might believe, this legislation is not going to make it harder for landlords to get possession if they have a good reason such as rent arrears or anti-social behaviour. They can get back possession at any time during the tenancy if they have evidence. But the Bill is going to bring some much-needed independent oversight over these evictions, because landlords are going to have to show the court that they have a good reason for evicting that household. As long as they can evidence it, then they are perfectly able to get possession back. We have spoken with private landlords who are in favour of this new law, because they believe it’s only fair to give tenants a decent length of time to find a new home.’



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