There has been an angry response by some politicians in Wales to the decision by the Labour administration to delay implementation of radical rental sector reforms.
Across social media and mainstream news outlets in Wales, groups have expressed their frustration at the delay, until December this year.
The Welsh nationalist political party Plaid Cymru - which has an informal pact with Wales’ ruling Labour Party - says the hold up gives time to "unscrupulous" private landlords to evict tenants. Plaid housing spokesman Mabon ap Gwynfor says: "For too many tenants, homelessness is too real a threat, and now we have a situation where eviction can happen very quickly through no fault of their own. Tenants need these protections now more than ever, and the Labour Welsh government has let them down."
The chief executive of the Wales branch of campaigning charity Shelter - Ruth Power - says she is frustrated by the delays. "Our casework shows 'no-fault' evictions have doubled compared to this time last year … There is an urgent need to rebalance the rights of landlords and tenants so that people feel secure in their homes" she comments.
And Citizens Advice Cymru's head of policy Luke Young says the charity is "disappointed this long awaited housing reform has been delayed further … A delay must not mean a free pass for rogue landlords.”
The Welsh reforms were to come into effect in mid July and have been described as the biggest change to housing law in Wales for decades.
They include an increase in the notice landlords must give when issuing evictions and protection for tenants from evictions for a minimum of 12 months after signing a contract.
Under the new rules all landlords will be required to provide a written copy of the occupation contract to the tenant, setting out the rights and responsibilities of both parties; there will be a strengthened duty on landlords to ensure the property is fit for human habitation, including the installation of smoke alarms and regular electrical safety testing; and the introduction of a consistent approach to eviction where antisocial behaviour and domestic violence occurs.
However, because of the complexity the Welsh housing minister Julie James made the delay announcement just before the Jubilee long weekend.
She says: “I have over recent months received representations from landlords, and particularly social landlords, who have requested that implementation of the Act be delayed.
“As such, and in the light of the unprecedented pressures they face, including Covid recovery and supporting those who are fleeing the war in Ukraine, I have decided to postpone implementation of the Act until 1st December 2022. This will allow more time for landlords to complete the necessary preparations ahead of implementation.
“Wholesale reform of the type that the Renting Homes (Wales) Act is bringing about happens only very rarely - perhaps once in a generation. I want to do all I can to ensure landlords have adequate time to make the necessary preparations to comply with the requirements of the Act.
“I appreciate that this delay, relatively short though it is, will be a source of frustration to some of our partners, especially those who are anxious to see the enhanced protections for tenants the Act will deliver. I share those frustrations, but I recognise that preparing new occupation contracts and ensuring that properties meet the fitness standards set out in the legislation are major undertakings, particularly for those landlords responsible for a large number of properties and tenants.
“I also accept that landlords from both private and public sectors, as well as letting agents and other stakeholders, would benefit from additional time to familiarise themselves with the various pieces of subordinate legislation – the final tranche of which are due to be made in July – before commencement.”
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