RLA at Welsh Labour Party Conference

John Stewart
Written by John Stewart

The RLA took up residence in Llandudno at the weekend, attending the Welsh Labour Party Conference.

The conference was overshadowed by the First Minister announcing he would step down from the role in the autumn, sparking speculation and subtle maneuovering in the cafes and bars.

With Rent Smart Wales in its third year of operation and the Renting Homes Act implementation under way, housing remains near the top of the political agenda.

In addition to meeting Welsh Labour Assembly Members, MPs and council leaders, the RLA held a round table meeting on fire safety.

We were delighted that Housing and Regeneration Minister, Rebecca Evans AM, was able to join us, along with Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee Chair, Mike Hedges AM.

The focus of the discussing was private sector high rise buildings with defective cladding and responsibility for ongoing safety measures, cladding removal and replacement.

Recent tribunal decisions have found leaseholders liable for both, leaving home-owners and private landlords in such blocks facing huge costs.

Because every lease is different, legal wrangling over responsibility for these cists could run on and on for many years, as leaseholders seek to recover costs from building firms, cladding manufacturers, or even local authority building control, who have passed materials as safe.

In the meantime, they face massive increases in service charges and their property being blighted, as any valuation will be well below market value due to safety concerns and legal liabilities.

We believe there is a role for the Welsh Government, to step in and meet the costs in the short-term, through a low-interest loan fund, recouping the outlay over a longer period of time.

This would allow the buildings to be made safe more quickly, remove the need for ongoing waking watch and other safety costs, and give residents peace of mind.

The legal wrangles will inevitably continue, but immediate safety concerns will have been resolved and ongoing service fee surcharges removed.

The minister has not ruled out support for such a scheme and promised to investigate funding sources.

The RLA is now working with industry partners to estimate the cost of making all affected PRS buildings safe and will report to a follow-up meeting with the minister.

About the author

John Stewart

John Stewart

John is the Deputy Director of Policy and Research for the NRLA. He has over 20 years experience working in politics, as a successful election agent, MP’s assistant, local councillor and council leader, and is a former charity chief executive.

He oversees RLA policy work across all levels of government – central, devolved and local – working to ensure that landlords’ views are represented and officials, MPs, Assembly Members and local councillors have key information and evidence about the PRS before they take decisions.

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