Welsh landlords face more eviction bureaucracy after the country’s housing announced that its Covid restrictions on giving notice of eviction are to be extended for another three months.
The Coronavirus Act 2020 includes a range of powers for Welsh Ministers including the ability to extend existing pandemic-specific evictions rules.
Since September last year landlords and agents have been required to give six months’ notice to tenants of an intention to evict.
This was due to run out at the end of June but was extended, with an option to extend beyond September 30th. This has now been taken up by the Welsh government.
Housing minister Julie James says: “The purpose of this alteration is to ensure that during a time when case numbers and hospitalisations are increasing and the virus remains a serious threat to public health, landlords will continue to give increased notice to tenants before they can issue proceedings for possession.
“The effect will to be to delay evictions meaning that fewer people will face eviction into homelessness at a time when this might exacerbate the spread of the virus and when local authorities are less able to respond to these situations.
In its explanatory memorandum, the Welsh government says the number of people under immediate threat of eviction from their homes must be kept low ‘in order to continue to contribute to the range of measures in place that respond to the continuing effects of the pandemic’.
Ben Beadle (pictured), Chief Executive of National Residential Landlords Association, says: “The further extension of longer notice periods is yet another blow to the Welsh private rented sector and will only worsen the ongoing rent arrears crisis.
“Expecting landlords to carry the burden of extended notice periods is doomed to fail and the Welsh Government’s desire to continue kicking the can down the road is jeopardising the long-term future of many landlords’ businesses and in turn, the security of tenants who rely upon them.
“This announcement indicates that the Welsh Government lacks a coherent strategy to address the many issues affecting the private rented sector.
The little publicised Tenancy Hardship Grant has helped less than half a dozen tenants and without a clear plan to exit emergency measures, the rent debt crisis will worsen, leaving many tenants with damaged credit scores, saddled with debt and local authorities unable to meet demand.
Paul Sowerbutts (pictured), Head of Legal at Landlord Action, adds: “No real surprise here that Wales has done this ahead of the big changes to tenancy types, possibly next year.
“But England is unlikely to follow suit as Wales is deviating more and more from England’s approach to the PRS.”