An ‘exciting proposal’ for landlords willing to house benefits tenants and low-income families is being worked on by the Welsh government, according to housing minister Rebecca Evans.
Speaking at the RLA’s second annual Future Renting Wales conference in Cardiff today, the minister exclusively revealed landlords could be offered incentives and other support to house those in need, saying ‘poverty should not be allowed to be the basis for discrimination’.
Speaking alongside DWP Minister Justin Tomlinson, the minister told those attending that she recognised that there were “increased” risks around tenants in receipt of benefits, due to benefits not meeting market rents and concerns about rent payments not being met in full and on time.
She said: “Let me be clear, I want to find ways to eradicate the ‘no DSS’ barrier
“Poverty should not be allowed to be the basis for discrimination.
“I want to see the Welsh government do more to support landlords who are willing to widen access by providing security of income, protecting against voids and losses and ensuring support for tenants during the duration of their agreement – and helping to improve the standard of the property they are renting.”
In return she said landlords would be expected to offer longer leases to tenants on benefits and low-income families.
The minister, who also addressed delegates at last year’s event said: “We are currently working on an exciting proposal to make an attractive offer of this type and it is one I want to move forward on at pace.”
She went on to ask delegates for their help with ‘exploratory works’ that are already underway and said a pathfinder trial is under discussion.
She added: “If we are going to transform the public perception of the private rented sector it would clearly be beneficial for the members of this organisation (the RLA) to contribute your knowledge and experience.
“These are exciting times for housing in Wales.”
Research by Manchester Metropolitan University, in conjunction with RLA research arm PEARL, showed changes to the benefits system has led to an increase in homelessness from rented housing, and that more needs to be done to tackle the issue.
The RLA will now speak with the minister’s team for more information on how to get involved when it comes to consultation on the new proposals.
RLA Vice Chair and its Director for Wales, Douglas Haig, said: “The RLA looks forward to working with the Welsh government as it develops its proposals further.
“With increasing numbers of vulnerable people looking to the private rented sector for a place to live, it is vital that landlords have the support required to manage and meet the needs of such tenants.”
Also speaking at the event was the Work and Pensions Minister, Justin Tomlinson MP. He said: “The RLA are one of the most proactive and constructive trade bodies.
“I know from meetings with the RLA that they are a very constructive voice for landlords.”
More than 200 people attended the Future Renting Wales conference at Cardiff’s Jury’s Inn today to discuss the future of the private rented sector in the country and how landlords can best prepare.
Keep an eye on the RLA’s campaigns and news site for a video of the minister’s speech in full and search #FutureRentingWales for more conference news and pictures.