A project promoting equality and diversity in the Welsh PRS, run in partnership with the RLA, is already making a difference.
Charity Tai Pawb, which promotes equality in housing, was awarded a £249,425 lottery grant last year to set up and run the Open Doors project, promoting equality in the PRS in the Cardiff, Vale of Glamorgan and Merthyr Tydfil areas.
The two-year scheme aims to provide landlords and letting agents in the PRS as well as tenants from minority groups, the knowledge, skills and confidence to prevent and reduce discrimination.
Overall it will aim to reach more than 2,000 people with activities such as training, an innovative online hub, published guides, a helpline, drop-ins, events and referrals as well as training Tenant and Landlord Champions to offer peer to peer support.
Work began six months ago, with cash from the Big Lottery People and Places Fund being used to support, advise on and raise awareness of key rights, responsibilities and solutions amongst private tenants from groups such as migrants, LGBT or disabled tenants – who are at greater risk of experiencing specific tenancy issues.
The RLA’s role includes working with private landlords and letting agents to improve their capacity to deal with issues related to equality and diversity and helping the Open Doors team engage with those renting out homes.
Open Doors Project Manager Sarah Vining said: “The project began back in August with our launch events at the end of September.
“Since then we have been meeting with landlords and tenants at various events, as well as attending landlords’ forums across all three local authority areas where are project is focused (Cardiff, Merthyr Tydfil and the Vale of Glamorgan)
“We have held training sessions and appointed landlord champions who are undergoing special training to share their expertise to engage with other landlords.
“We have also run a breakfast event for landlords in conjunction with Ikea and will be hosting a reception in the Senedd this summer.
“The feedback so far has been extremely positive. We are here to help and support landlords, not to tell them off, and people have been very willing to get on board with that.
“They have come to us with practical issues asking for advice and we have been able to provide them with that, along with peer to peer support and signposting to other agencies.”
Funding for the project runs until July 2019, with Open Doors already in talks with Big Lottery about extending it beyond that.
RLA Vice-chair and Director for Wales Douglas Haig is on the advisory group for the project and is working with Sarah and the Open Doors team to support the delivery of the project.
He said: “We were delighted at the opportunity to partner with Tai Pawb in the delivery of this project to raise the issue of diversity in the PRS and provide the support and advice landlords need to create long term sustainable tenancies.
“The private rented sector is incredibly versatile and projects like this are ensuring that people know their rights and responsibilities and know how to get help if they need it. We are already seeing the work we are doing making a difference on the ground, which is a fantastic achievement.”