The Welsh Conservative spokesperson for housing, Janet Finch-Saunders (pictured), has urged its Labour government to consider setting up a dedicated housing tribunal for Wales to address a fundamental lack of faith in the present court system.
Finch-Saunders believes that proactive intervention is needed as legislation in Wales continues to diverge from England.
She says. “We cannot be left with a situation where the present route to possession leaves landlords with immense financial burdens, pushing them towards the less problematic route of self-accommodation lets, and leaving tenants with problems around their mental well-being.”
Last October, the legislation, justice and constitution committee recommended the need for a standalone and specific housing tribunal in Wales to ensure that access to justice was not unreasonably delayed when the new ‘grounds’ provisions in the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 is enforced next year.
It added that there would be an inevitable rise in workload for an already overburdened court system.
Daryl McIntosh (pictured), Propertymark policy manager, says now is the time to act, before an entirely new tenancy regime is created. “A dedicated housing tribunal allows for free and accessible access to justice for all parties, from specialist judges whose knowledge would bring consistency in decisions,” says McIntosh.
“It is this specialist knowledge that will ensure the protections the Welsh Government intend to provide for tenants under the Act will not be undermined.”
He adds: “A new system would also bring back confidence to landlords, who having been faced with adversity and a poor experience, are at risk of leaving the sector. At a time when the PRS in Wales is providing homes for over 200,000 households in Wales it is important that landlords can have faith in the protection of their assets when needed.”