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Emergency legislation to suspend evictions over Christmas

Emergency legislation will form part of efforts to protect public health and support renters this Christmas, housing minister Julie James has confirmed.

The Welsh Government has agreed measures to suspend evictions from social and private rented accommodation between December 11 and January 11 this year as part of its response to tackling the spread of COVID-19.

Exceptions will be evictions relating to matters such as anti-social behaviour.

Landlords will still be able to issue eviction notices. The regulations will prevent bailiffs from evicting or serving notice of eviction on tenants from social or private rented homes in Wales.

Julie James said:

‘We have taken action to protect public health and support Welsh tenants this Christmas. This is an extremely difficult time for many people and renters should not be forced out of their homes, at a time when there will be less access to advice, support and alternative accommodation. We also know that people who are homeless are at a higher risk of contracting coronavirus.

‘One of the best ways of tackling homelessness is to prevent it happening to begin with and this is just one of the steps we are taking as many people face uncertainty.

‘This year we are investing up to £50 million to tackle homelessness, which is not simply about ensuring that no-one need sleep rough, but to transform services to ensure there are permanent homes for people who are at risk of being homeless.’

Earlier this year the Welsh Government provided an extra £1.4m through the Single Advice Fund, to support people to manage problem debt and improve their household income. Part of this funding was used to create the Early Alert Scheme for rent arrears and other household debt in the private rented sector. This is helping many people living in private rented accommodation to access the support they need.

In addition, the Tenancy Saver Loan Scheme offers private sector tenants who are in rent arrears a low cost loan which is paid directly to the landlord, to address debt and to prevent evictions.

Deputy minister and chief whip Jane Hutt said:

‘It’s vital that the most vulnerable people in our communities have access to free and impartial advice that they can trust, and the financial support through the benefits system that they need, especially during these difficult times. The issues people have faced aren’t going away.

‘The Single Advice Fund is continuing to enable people across Wales to access the advice and support they need to maximise their income, resolve housing issues, and manage debt.’

Tenants can access free, confidential and independent debt advice by contacting Citizens Advice Cymru on the free private rented sector debt helpline – 0808 278 7920.

Citizens Advice Cymru delivers debt advice services through the Single Advice Fund, ensuring that those most vulnerable, such as private sector tenants, can access the advice and support they need to manage their financial situation.

Case study

Samantha called the PRS debt helpline after her landlord advised her to discuss the Tenancy Saver Loan scheme. She was self employed as a barber and due to a lack of income during Covid she got into rent arrears of £1,325 with her landlord as well as water arrears and credit card debts of £8,000. The client had not been issued a section 8 or 21 as of yet.

She made a payment plan with the landlord paying an additional £55 on top of her standard rent to prevent any eviction action from being taken.

Samantha was looking for guidance on how to apply for the Tenancy Saver Loan. The adviser provided information about the service, went through all her debts and sent holding letters to her creditors. The adviser explored her circumstances and then checked her eligibility for the tenancy saver loan scheme before directing her to make an application.

The current legislation regarding evictions was clearly explained to her and she was relieved to understand the notice period required before she could be evicted.

Samantha was also referred to Citizens Advice Cymru consumer service and business support helpline to get advice in relation to a business dispute she had at the salon. The adviser agreed to keep the case open until the client felt her debt situation was under control.

Samantha was provided with an email containing further guidance information and a summary of agreed tasks to progress her case. She felt reassured and thanked the adviser as she felt much better about her situation and felt relieved for the help received. She has been able to apply for the tenancy saver loan however the outcome of application is yet to be determined. Casework is ongoing to help her further with the other debts and also to address the rent arrears in the event she is unable to get the loan.


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