“Other people see that you’ve been evicted, and assume that it’s for not paying your bills. I’ve always worked, and paid my way”
The National Assembly's Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee is today launching a consultation on the Welsh Government's Renting Homes (Amendment) Bill. The proposal is to increase the minimum notice period for 'Section 21 evictions', commonly known as 'no fault evictions', from two months to six months.
It will also restrict the issuing of such a notice until six months after the occupation date of the contract. This means that a tenant will now have 12 months within a property before the landlord can obtain possession (as long as the contract holder does not breach the terms of the contract).
According to the Welsh Government, the Bill is to "improve security of tenure" for people who rent their homes.
There are over 200,000 privately rented homes in Wales where tenants are at risk of a 'no fault eviction. The private rental market currently accounts for approximately 15% of all homes, having more than doubled in size since 2000/01, it offers an important housing option. The people living in privately rented accommodation are also changing: increasing numbers of families with children and older people are renting and for longer periods of time.
The Committee will be taking evidence from experts, tenants, landlords and other key people to look at the Welsh Government's proposals.
Looking at the proposed changes to Section 21 'no fault evictions' the Committee will be hearing a range of views from tenants, landlords and housing experts. It is clear that there are divided opinions on evictions.
Darren and Lisa Pitts-Whitby, from Abergele were evicted from their private rented home with a Section 21 notice as their landlord wanted to sell the property – 9 months after they had to leave the property it is still on the market and they are living in overcrowded temporary accommodation. They were first housed in a caravan, and now in a house which is too small for their family.
Darren and Lisa have six children aged 4 to 25 years, including foster children. Their four girls are all sharing one room. Three of their children are autistic and unable to change schools as it would have a negative impact on their health, they are restricted as to where they can live as they need to be within the school catchment area.
Darren said: "Other people see that you've been evicted, and assume that it's for rent arrears and you've not paid your bills. I've always worked, and paid my way".
"The landlord gave us no notice, and no time to get anything sorted. And it's still on the market now".
On the other hand, Shirley Longley, a landlord in Conwy thinks the proposed changes to Section 21 are unnecessary: "It is totally unnecessary to make this change. No landlord wants to lose a tenant who is paying the rent. Landlords want long term tenants to stay for as long as possible since tenant turnover is costly. We do not kick people out to put rents up! Rents do not go up that quickly and it is preferable to stay with a lower rent and long term tenant that turning over tenants for the sake of a few extra pounds."
Getting the balance right
John Griffiths, Chair of the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee said:
"The way we live in Wales is changing. With more and more people living in privately rented homes it is right that we look at the way the market is operating and the issues that tenants face. It is also important to hear from landlords about the challenges they face in providing accommodation for so many people across the country.
"In looking at this Bill the Committee will listen to as many people involved in the private rented sector as possible, including those who have been affected by no fault evictions. With people of all backgrounds and circumstances relying on the rental market, our job is to make sure that the Welsh Government have got the balance right with these proposals to protect tenants and support landlords."
Citizens Advice Cymru, who help people across Wales with housing problems, are familiar with the challenges faced by renters and landlords. Rebecca Woolley Citizens Advice Director, Wales added:
"Last year, Citizens Advice Cymru helped people with more than 3000 issues related to living in private rented accommodation. It's clear that more needs to be done to help people feel safe and secure in their homes. We welcome the measures outlined in the draft Welsh Government Bill, and look forward to working with other stakeholders to ensure increased security for renters in Wales".