Today Mark Drakeford AM, the Leader of Welsh Labour and First Minister of Wales announced that the Welsh Government will be banning Section 21.
With the Government’s own data showing that it takes over five months from a private landlord applying to the courts for a property to be repossessed to it actually happening, the RLA argues that it is vital that a reformed and improved court system is able to bed in and the grounds to repossess properties are properly improved before making changes to Section 21. This would follow the lead set in Scotland.
RLA Vice Chairman Douglas Haig met with the First Minister Mark Drakeford to discuss the RLA’s concerns on the proposal. He said:
‘We discussed with the First Minister that the current structure of the legislation means that section 21 is the fundamental backbone of the sector. Section 21 is not retaliatory action, it is the last option and is only preferred because reform hasn’t happened to section 8.
The RLA has been calling for many reforms to the sector, such as the housing court, that would reduce dependency on section 21 and increase the confidence in the use of section 8.
Only 11% of tenancies are ended by the landlord and over three quarters of those are because of high rent arrears. Research conducted by our research arm PEARL has highlighted the problems of Universal Credit reform; LHA freeze and reduction in housing benefit. Such a lack of provisions for our most venerable have left tenants defaulting on rental payments, increase possessions due to large rent arrears in the thousands of pounds and an increase pressures on support services that have been drastically reduced.
The First Minister understood the RLA’s concerns and stated that the Welsh Government wouldn’t remove section 21 without also reforming the system around it. He confirmed that a consultation will be launched seeking the views of landlords, stakeholders and associations like the RLA in the near future. He is interested in introducing this reform in a separate Bill in the 4th assembly year.
Future meetings with the First Minister have been scheduled and he looks forward to the RLA’s continued constructive input and to understand the views and concerns of landlords with the proposed removal of section 21.
The RLA also advised the First Minister that it will shortly be consulting the landlord community to establish what measures would be needed to ensure they have confidence in the system before efforts are made to end Section 21 repossessions. He welcomed such efforts and looks forward to hear the response of our survey and supports our encouragement to get the views of RLA members across.
Overall, I would like to thank the First Minister for a very constructive meeting and the RLA hopes to continue to work with the First Minister and his Government on their future proposals”