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Senedd votes against rent freeze and ban on winter evictions

23 Nov 2023 4 minute read
MSs voted against a motion to ban evictions and freeze rents.

Emily Price

The Senedd has voted against a motion calling on the Welsh Government to freeze rents and introduce measures to ban evictions this winter.

The motion, tabled by Plaid Cymru was debated in the chamber on Wednesday afternoon (November 23).

Plaid Cymru said they believed no one in Wales should be put at risk of homelessness as a result of high inflation and a lack of affordable housing stock.

The debate was led by Mabon ap Gwynfor MS who warned that over two thirds of landlords who don’t have a mortgage have been increasing their rents.

He said: “We need a long-term and clear vision in order to tackle the housing crisis. We need to build houses under public ownership on a massive scale, and we need to do so in partnership with new financiers, as they do in the Netherlands on public land.

“We need to look at programmes such as the cost rental schemes in Switzerland and Ireland, and buying back houses into public ownership, as Gwynedd Council is doing.

“But people are looking to us here for a short-term solution to this crisis that they face today.”

Crisis

Welsh Conservative MS Sam Rowlands said a rent freeze would not deal with the current crisis in Wales.

He said: “The recently introduced rent freeze in Scotland has, according to Zoopla, led to rents north of the border for new lets rising more than anywhere else in the UK.

“If rent trends in Wales followed Scotland, the National Residential Landlords Association estimate Welsh tenants would pay 16 per cent more in rent each month within a decade.

“So, it’s clear to me that that is not the right solution for dealing with the crisis that we are all facing.”

Plaid Cymru’s Sioned Williams MS said a rent freeze could save the Welsh Government money as well as save the dignity of people struggling to pay their rent.

She said: “Our calls to prevent evictions and to freeze rents are one part of the way in which we can help save them from that, save them from the darkness and anxiety of the winter months, by implementing a policy that will save them from the biting cold, save them from the disastrous effect of unaffordable rents and from the nightmare of homelessness.

“This will save costs relating to illness and homelessness for the Government and more importantly, will save the dignity and well-being of some tens of thousands of our citizens. I urge you, for their sake, to support our motion.”

Plaid Cymru MS Peredur Owen Griffiths warned the squeeze on current tenants is relentless.

He said: “A recent survey by the Shelter housing charity has shown that around seven out of 10 mortgage-free landlords have hiked rents on new rental agreements in the past year, despite being unaffected by interest rate rises.

“Zoopla has also estimated that rental affordability in the UK is at its worst for a decade, and increases in rent outstrip wage growth.

“For us as politicians, this emphatically underlines that remaining on the current trajectory with respect to housing policy is simply unconscionable. We need radical alternatives to the status quo before even more people are driven out of the housing sector entirely.”

Ineffective

Minister for Climate Change, Julie James said a rent freeze would cloud the important work the Welsh Government is currently doing.

She said: “I believe rent freezes are an ineffective measure to support anyone during the winter, but can also store up longer-term issues. Compelling rent arrears build-up during a moratorium could lead to a mandatory ground for possession, and damage a household’s ability to find a new home when that moratorium has indeed lifted.

“I just want to be really clear with Members that I do not think these are the solutions for addressing affordability in the private rented sector. The most significant lever that could help ease and address affordability in the private rented sector is uplifting the local housing allowance.

“It is these rates that determine how much housing benefit someone gets, and the fact that they have been frozen for almost four years while rents have increased means the gap between income and rent is unaffordable for far too many.”

The motion was not agreed with 11 MSs voting in favour and 36 against.

Minister for Rural Affairs and Trefnydd, Lesley Griffiths MS tabled an amendment calling on the UK Government to uplift rates to match the actual cost of rent instead of the Welsh Government implementing a rent freeze.

The motion was agreed with 35 MSs voting in favour and 12 voting against.


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hdavies15
hdavies15
7 months ago

This tells a nasty little story – “Mabon ap Gwynfor MS who warned that over two thirds of landlords who don’t have a mortgage have been increasing their rents.” Surely these people should only be applying for relatively marginal rent increases if at all. That useless government agency , RentSmart, should have a mechanism in place that allows tenants to flag up a rent increase which could then be assessed against a checklist of property conditions. Also a minimum level of 6 month notice for any termination of tenancy unless tenants are shown to be damaging property or defaulting on… Read more »

Sarah Good
Sarah Good
7 months ago

And winter evictions? They are still permitted? How does preventing that work against Welsh Labour’s apparent master plan. We know the Tories are mean and incompetent.
I think it’s about time PC distanced themselves from Labour. Stop rubber stamping their agenda until the make meaningful actions to support the PC agenda. Quid Pro Quo

Linda Jones
Linda Jones
7 months ago

Whose interests are Welsh Labour serving? Just wondering how many Labour party members at the Senedd are landlords? Clearly they are not acting in the interests of tenants.

hdavies15
hdavies15
7 months ago
Reply to  Linda Jones

Too many Labour and other Senedd M.S ‘s are multiple landlords. Having one spare for time being due to e.g inheritance from parents is fine by me ( not others, maybe) but some of these duplicious folk from both sides of Senedd are racking up numbers.

Sarah Good
Sarah Good
7 months ago
Reply to  Linda Jones

Well we know the ones in the Tories Janet French-Saunders is probably the loudest of them but there are more

hdavies15
hdavies15
7 months ago
Reply to  Sarah Good

She was probably well loaded up with properties before she got into Senedd, may have added to the number since. Some of our M.S’s have been acquiring properties since being elected which suggests they are doing very nicely on salary + expenses, or… are they getting brown envelopes and investing them in bricks and mortar ? Does the disclosure rules cover this kind of issue ? Would they abide by it ?

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
7 months ago

Tory Sam Rowlands refers to a ‘crisis that we are ALL facing’. We are not ‘ALL’ facing a crisis are we Mr Rowlands?

Maglocunos
Maglocunos
7 months ago

So, a grubby little alliance between the Labour and toxic Toraidh unionist parties in the Senedd give tenants in Wales a kick in the teeth this winter

Nice that

.

NOT Grayham Jones
NOT Grayham Jones
7 months ago

PC and Mabon clearly do not understand the workings of a capitalist state and dream of a marxist controlling govt. The controls he wants do not work and just make things worse for the very people he is fighting for. If you crack down on the landlords you risk driving more of them out of the sector which just makes things worse – rentals are like gold dust already. Like it or not Landlords are in it to make money and yes some are mortgage free so get bigger profits but what happens to the ones with mortgages- they will… Read more »

Richard E
Richard E
7 months ago

Well for once and probably the lsst time i
find myself having some sympathy for Not Grayham Jones..

Land Lords whether local authority, housing association, third sector or private individuals are rightly providing a needed service.

Not perfect but supporting many folk who would be in serious risk otherwise.

Vigerous rules and substantive regulation allows for fair play and Plaid perhaps nerd to come up with a targetted appoach that support best practice and use of the thousands of LONG TERM empty homes we have in Wales.

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
7 months ago

Absolutely Disgraceful. And the labour members of the Senedd who joined with the Tories to vote down the Plaid Cymru motion calling on the Welsh Government to freeze rents and introduce measures to ban evictions in Wales this winter should be ashamed of themselves.

The original mark
The original mark
7 months ago

Just think, most of this wouldn’t be happening if the tories hadn’t allowed the sell off of council housing and leting the private rental sector control the housing market

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