Government accused of ‘hiding behind dubious Coronavirus regulations’ over use of emergency no-fault eviction laws
Plaid Cymru’s Spokesperson on Housing and Planning has accused the Welsh Government of “hiding behind dubious Coronavirus regulations” to avoid implementing a law that protects tenants from being evicted.
In a statement today, Mabon ap Gwynfor MS called on the Welsh Government to get on with implementing their new laws around no fault evictions without further delay.
This week the Welsh Government announced an extension to emergency legislation which provides private tenants with protection from eviction – legislation that was introduced as part of emergency coronavirus measures.
The announcement said: “The effect of these changes will be to extend, for a further three months, the period during which landlords, in most circumstances, will need to provide tenants with increased notice before starting possession proceedings in the courts.”
Mabon ap Gwynfor MS said: “I welcome the fact that the protections put in place to stop tenants from being evicted will be extended until the end of the year. Plaid Cymru has long called for greater protection for tenants.
“But I’m seriously concerned that these protections are short term and are introduced through a dubious health protection legislation. Instead of hiding behind the Coronavirus they should just implement the new Rental Act that was made law five years ago.”
The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 was passed in 2016 and includes a clause that will extend no fault evictions notice period from 2 months to 6 months.
Criticising the Welsh Labour Government for their slow implementation, he said: “This law was passed five years ago, and while it’s been amended, the thrust of is has still not be implemented. This must be a record. Tenants need that security, knowing that they cannot be thrown out of their home through no fault of their own.
“There is no reason why it should not be commenced immediately. The Government already has the powers to enforce it, so why they continue to delay its commencement and instead choose to give tenants extended rights based on public health grounds is a mystery.”
In July, Mabon ap Gwynfor had criticised the Welsh Government for ending the ban on no fault evictions, saying: “We’re in the middle of a housing crisis in which tens thousands of families are on waiting lists. We are also at the beginning of a third Covid wave with the very real possibility of more people having to isolate; furlough is coming to an end, and the UK Government will soon stop the £20 per week increase in Universal Credit, which is a lifeline for so many vulnerable people. With all of this, it is an entirely irresponsible time in which to end the ban on no fault evictions.
“Tenants need to have confidence that if they pay rent and look after their home, there isn’t a risk that they will simply be evicted.
“The lifting of this ban is wrong. This practice should end permanently. Welsh Labour chose not to implement a far more progressive policy during the last Senedd.
“Tenants need confidence that if they pay rent and look after the place – their home – that they can’t just be evicted. They need to know that they will have a home for as long as they need it.”
Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We are working to implement the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 during this first year of our legislative programme and confirm our commitment to provide at least six months’ preparation time for tenants, landlords and others by issuing the key documentation they will need.
“The implementation of this ambitious Act constitutes a complex whole-system change that goes well beyond extending notice periods in relation to no-fault evictions, by transforming the rented sector.
“Regulations made under the Coronavirus Act are very different and entirely appropriate. They ensure that until 31 December 2021 tenancies in both the private and social rented sectors are subject to a six month notice period in most cases.
“Given the nature of the pandemic, it is essential to avoid evictions into homelessness where possible, and the greater burden on public services these bring.”