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Issue 129: Spring 2023

Facing up to the future

With a green paper due shortly on fair rents and the right to adequate housing, the Spring issue of WHQ looks in depth at the sector that plays a key role across the Welsh housing system.

The private rented sector now accounts for 15 per cent of homes in Wales, double the proportion 20 years ago, and it is now home to tens of thousands of people who might once have hoped to buy or to get a social tenancy. Students, refugees and local authorities looking for tenancies for homeless people also rely on it – and landlords can look to an alternative market for short-term holiday lets.

This issue takes private renting as its theme and reflects views from across the sector. Sam Coates of ACORN Cardiff says regulation needs to go much further to redress the imbalance of power between landlords and tenants, while Jennie Bibbings of Shelter Cyrmu says Wales risks becoming ‘odd country out’ on banning no-fault evictions.

However, Steven Bletsoe of the National Residential Landlords Association argues that regulatory and tax changes have led to a shortage of decent accommodation that would be compounded by any prospect of rent controls. Tim Thomas of Propertymark says that driving standards up, rather than landlords out, should be the aim.

The green paper will be published by the Welsh Government as part of the co-operation agreement with Plaid Cymru. But many of the policies affecting private renting are set in Westminster rather than Cardiff Bay. Rob King of the Bevan Foundation presents evidence of the dire impact of the freeze on Local Housing Allowance rates while Bethan Jones of Rent Smart Wales looks at the data on energy performance in the sector with tighter standards on the horizon.

This issue is published ahead of TAI 2023 and we also preview many of the key debates. Robin Staines hails some significant progress in the Council Housing at Scale and Pace project and says councils will be an important part of meeting the need for new social housing. Matt Dicks reflects on professionalism in housing management in the wake of England’s introduction of mandatory qualifications. And we hear five different perspectives on the question of whether traditional housing officers still exist.

Elsewhere in this issue you’ll find articles on everything from anti-social behaviour to decarbonisation, modern methods of construction to design and anti-racism to housing for older people, plus all our regular features.

Another packed issue of WHQ reflects a busy time for housing in Wales across all sectors. I look forward to catching up with as many of you as possible at TAI.

Jules Birch, editor, WHQ

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