The Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee has launched a consultation on plans announced by the Welsh Government last week to extend the minimum notice period for serving a Section 21 in Wales from two to six months.
Under plans announced last week, landlords in Wales would be unable to gain possession of their property in effect for twelve months. This is unless a tenant decides to leave, or they have breached the terms of their contract for example by committing antisocial behaviour or accruing rent arrears.
Consultation and survey
As well as the consultation that has been launched, as part of the Committee’s scrutiny of the Renting Homes (Amendment) (Wales) Bill, the ELGC committee has also created a short survey to capture the views of landlords across Wales on the Bill. The survey will close on Friday, 13 March and can be accessed here.
What is being proposed
Under Section 173 of the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016, the Welsh equivalent of Section 21, private landlords cannot repossess properties in the first six months of the tenancy.
As part of the Renting Homes (Amendment) (Wales) Bill the Welsh Government is now proposing to extend the subsequent notice period from the current two months to six months, this in effect means that the earliest landlords would be able to serve a Section 21 notice would be at 12 months.
For a 12-month contract – standard for students and young professionals – the period will increase to 18 months because you can’t serve the notice in the first six months.
The new rule will only affect so-called ‘no fault’ repossessions, where a landlord needs to take their property back, for example if they need to move into it themselves or sell it.
Landlords will still be able to issue a possession notice with a shorter notice period if the contract has been breached under current Section 8 rules.
“This could damage landlords confidence”
Commenting on the plans last week, RLA Vice-Chair and Director for Wales Douglas Haig said:
“While we acknowledge the minister has recognised the complete removal of Section 21 would be bad for the sector, we are disappointed with today’s proposals.
“It is absolutely essential that landlords with a legitimate reason to repossess their property are able to do so.
“If they do not many could opt to leave the market altogether – leaving renters with fewer options and potentially pushing rents up.
“The government says that those with grounds to repossess can still give the shorter notice period using Section 8.
“However RLA research shows 83% of landlords who used Section 21 had done so because of rent arrears alone. Over half had experienced anti-social tenants.
“This proves that despite having grounds to evict landlords are currently five times more likely to use the ‘no fault’ Section 21 notice, due to the lengthy court waiting times and expense associated with Section 8.
“Despite this, proposals do not include any plans to reform the grounds process, something we believe is vital before any change of this kind is made, to avoid a devastating cut to the supply of homes to rent in Wales at a time when demand continues to grow.”
The Committee will be taking evidence from experts, tenants, landlords and other key people to look at the Welsh Government’s proposals.
Have your say in the consultation
- The consultation, on the general principles of the Renting Homes (Amendment) (Wales) Bill will run until 12th March 2020. The RLA will be making a formal response. In addition to the consultation the Committee has also launched a survey, which can be accessed via this link.