The RLA is calling on the Welsh Government to provide more information on how its measures will affect private landlords as it outlines how it aims support the population through the coronavirus outbreak.
Wales’ Economy Minister Ken Skates AM announced steps being taken to help businesses and the self-employed yesterday:
“After confirming all of the figures with the UK government, we’re going to be investing just under £1.4bn in businesses in Wales. We’re going to match what’s happening in England completely.
“But we’re also going to be establishing a fund that will assist some self-employed people and businesses outside of those sectors and those areas of the economy that are going to benefit from the business rate holiday and the grants.”
However, not much detail has emerged from Cardiff Bay surrounding the private rented sector. Yesterday, the UK Government announced measures put in place regarding mortgages and the banning of the use of Section 21 under emergency legislation. Landlords with properties in Wales need urgent clarity over whether the Welsh Government will adopt the same or similar laws for possession.
Following the Welsh Government’s announcement of the new funding, landlords will be hoping they will be eligible for some to help keep people in their homes. The RLA believes a good use of this money would be to send it to the good landlords who have complied with Rent Smart Wales (RSW) obligations so they can continue to help their tenants and pay their mortgage.
Answers are also needed, like in England, regarding how landlords can be compensated for missed rent and utility bills, especially for those that let HMOs where many include bills in the rental payment. Measures announced so far have focussed on mortgage holidays – now extended to Buy-to-Let mortgages – but there are more issues to be taken into account beyond this.
All good landlords obviously want to ensure their tenants can stay in their homes, but they should not be asked to bear the burden of financial cost when other groups are protected by government.
Under RSW obligations, landlords are required to undertake several steps to ensure they let a high-quality home. The Welsh Government must clarify how landlords should act in complying with licensing requirements and general obligations (e.g. securing a gas safety certificate, routine inspections) that need to be met in the next few days and weeks when the health and safety of tenants and landlords must be protected from potential spreading of the virus.
It follows RSW’s tweet stating they have “suspended all activity to promote the requirement to comply with Minimum Energy Efficiency legislation by April 1st. The overriding priority is to keep people safe; landlords + tenants should follow @PublicHealthW COVID-19 guidance and not put their health at risk.”
Commenting, RLA vice chair and director for Wales Douglas Haig said:
“In these unprecedented times it is everyone’s responsibility to contribute to get the country through this and private landlords are no exception and certainly doing their bit. Many are already assisting tenants that have to self-isolate and working through plans to help those that have either lost their jobs or have reduced incomes because of the Corona Virus.
“However, the vast majority of landlords are small businesses too, and whilst we welcome the commitment by Welsh Government to replicate those offerings of the UK Government we are concerned that many of them do not support private landlords through this and this will have a knock on impact on their tenants.
“We would like confirmation that the extra measures to be proposed by Welsh Government will support private landlords as well.”
More information regarding RLA advice to landlords can be found on our Coronavirus webpage. Here you will plenty of resources and information to help you.