The majority of landlords in Wales are supporting tenants as much as they can during the coronavirus pandemic, says the NRLA.
The association’s Wales policy and public affairs officer Calum Davies addressed the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee inquiry into the impact of Covid-19 on housing, calling for more support for landlords who find themselves ‘shut out’ of government support schemes.
He said measures such as the furlough scheme and the increase in Local Housing Allowance to reflect 30% of local market rents were welcome-but that more support is needed to ensure tenants are able to pay their rent, such as increasing the LHA a further 50%, especially as the furlough scheme is due to end soon.
He also said that given some landlords rely on rent for income, the NRLA would like to see something similar to interest-free government-backed loan scheme for tenants similar to one introduced in Spain, who can apply for up to six months’ rent.
The money can only be used for rent, which is paid directly to the landlord, and can be re-paid over 6-10 years.
Video: The evidence session can be watched below (starts from 1hr 12)
Co-operation between landlords and tenants
Addressing the Committee, Calum highlighted the findings of an independent poll of more than 2000 tenants published recently, showing the majority of tenants have been able to pay rent as normal during the pandemic, and that where a tenant has struggled to do this, most landlords have been working with them with some even taking a hit to be able to support tenants at this time.
Landlord confidence and the ban on evictions
Questions from the committee then turned to the eviction ban, which is currently in place in 23rd August.
Addressing the committee, Calum Davies said the eviction ban shouldn’t be extended for a second time, adding that doing so could knock landlords’ confidence for example in cases where rent arrears have been building up before the pandemic, or where a tenant is behaving anti-socially.
He highlighted the association’s calls for cases involving domestic violence and anti-social behaviour to be prioritized by the courts when they can hear repossession cases again.
Re-opening of the Welsh housing market
Last week, the First Minister of Wales said viewings of occupied homes for rent or sale in the housing market will be able to resume on Monday 27 July.
On the reopening of the housing market, he said the steps that have been taken so far to partially open the Welsh housing market have been welcome, but that it is “vital” the ability for landlords to hold viewings in occupied properties in not delayed much longer as this will help landlords operate their business more efficiently, and tenants to move more flexibly.
Landlord Transaction Tax
Yesterday the Welsh Government announced that from 27th July, people buying their main home for less than £250,000 will not pay any tax-however this does not apply to buy-to-let properties.
Responding to this at the evidence session, Calum said “the decision to exclude buy to let mortgages benefiting from the threshold change is shortsighted in terms of ensuring the housing sector can provide for other people that can not afford to buy after the coronavirus crisis”.
He added there is a need for landlords and tenants to be supported equally.
- Calum was giving evidence alongside Clarissa Corbisiero, Director of Policy and External Affairs / Deputy Chief Executive, Community Housing Cymru, Matt Dicks, Director, CIH Cymru, Cllr Andrea Lewis, Housing Spokesperson, Welsh Local Government Association and Jim McKirdle, Housing Policy Officer, Welsh Local Government Association