Welsh Government Ignores Landlords to Chase Policy Goals
As previously reported, Welsh housing minister Julie James kicked off a media campaign urging property professionals to give their views on extending notice periods for tenants - then ignored hundreds of responses.
Around 1,400 consultation responses were received - with 90 per cent coming from landlords and letting agents.
The consultation asked if no-fault tenant notice periods in Wales should be extended to six months.
The Welsh Government confesses:
“most landlords and letting agents were against extending six-month notice periods to existing tenancies, and of those that were in agreement, most favoured applying the change at a later date.”
Unsurprisingly, the rest - mainly tenants and tenant bodies favoured the proposed extension - with most arguing the measure should be applied from December 1 rather than waiting until June 2023.
Six-months notice for no-fault evictions
The six-month rule already applies to tenancies in Wales starting on or after December 1. Existing tenancies come under the measure from June 1 2023.
Julie James fits her housing role by acting as climate change minister in the Welsh Government, _tried to explain why she ignored the majority opinion_.
“The proposed extension of the six-month no-fault notice period was always going to generate highly contrasting views. Whilst noting the views of those landlords and agents that responded, I have decided that the societal and individual benefits accruing from the extension outweigh the negative impact on individual landlords, particularly in view of shorter notice periods of one month or less applying where there is a breach of contract,” she said.
“I am also mindful that landlords will not have had an opportunity to take the proposal into account in agreeing new contracts prior to the announcement of the consultation. Notwithstanding the calls from tenant representatives to introduce the extended no-fault notice period as soon as possible, I believe it is appropriate to allow landlords more time to plan than applying the change from December 1 would allow. Therefore, I have decided to proceed with applying the extension from June 1, 2023. I believe this achieves a reasonable balance between tenants' and landlords' rights.”
Letting agents back landlords
_The letting agent trade body Propertymark_ complains the measure shows a government determined to make temporary measures during the COVID pandemic more permanent for tenants.
“The Welsh Government says extending notice periods for existing tenancies from June is necessary to bring down the rising cost to taxpayers of temporary accommodation. What it fails to understand is the knock-on effect this strengthening of tenants’ rights will have on the confidence of landlords,” said Tim Thomas, Policy and Campaigns Officer for Propertymark.
“Private landlords have become important housing providers, but they need to know they can regain possession of their property when necessary. The best way to support tenants is to focus on policies that can increase the supply of housing rather than those that will constrain it.”
Welsh council tax changes
Meanwhile, the Welsh Government has also relaxed the rules exempting letting a property from paying enhanced council tax premiums.
The government is allowing councils to charge up to 300 per cent tax on empty homes - mostly holiday homes that are unoccupied for most of the year.
The exemptions are for three types of property subject to planning conditions that:
- Prevent occupancy for a continuous period of at least 28 days in any one year.
- Specify that the dwelling may be used for short-term holiday lets only.
- Prevent occupancy as a person’s sole or primary residence.
Enhanced council tax rules start from April 1 2023.
What is a no-fault eviction in Wales?
A no-fault eviction is when a landlord gives notice to a renter who has not breached their tenancy agreement. Currently, Wales follows the English model that gives eight weeks' notice.
Under new housing laws, landlords must give new tenants six months’ notice from December 1, and all existing tenancies come under the umbrella from June 1, 2023.
Who is Julie James?
_Julie James_ is a member of the Welsh Senedd and has juggled her responsibilities for housing with her role as Minister for Climate Change since May 2021.
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