Shadow Minister blasts Welsh Government for soaring private rental costs
Shadow Minister for Housing, Janet Finch-Saunders MS has accused the Welsh Government of creating a housing shortage in Wales which has resulted in rental costs rising faster than anywhere in the UK outside of London.
According to the property website Rightmove, the average rent for a Cardiff property between July and September this year rose almost 20% from £870 to £1,041 from the same quarter last year.
Across Wales, Rightmove is reporting the average cost of a rental property is £974 – up 15% from 2021.
Average rents in London rose by 16.1% in the same period, while the UK-wide average increased by 11%.
Higher interest rates, soaring inflation, and landlords withdrawing from the market due to new legislation to give more protection to tenants are believed to be among the factors feeding into increased demand and higher prices.
“Once again, we are seeing the devastating impact of a quarter of a century of Labour run Wales’” Mrs Finch-Saunders, the MS for Aberconwy said.
“Let’s not forget that this is a housing crisis of Labour’s own making with fewer than 6,000 houses being completed per year before the pandemic, less than half the number required.
“Rather than focus on issues that matter to hard working people, Labour ministers have wasted time and effort on vanity projects and the relentless scapegoating of landlords. This must end.
“Labour need to act fast and get a grip on their housing crisis in Wales, ensuring there is sufficient housing stock for families across Wales and end their relentless attacks on landlords and second homeowners.”
Last week, the organisation which represents property agents across the UK criticised the Welsh Government’s new Renting Homes (Wales) Act which is due to come into force next month.
The legislation aims to improve security of tenure for renters by, amongst other things, increasing the period of notice that a landlord must give when seeking repossession of their property in instances where the renter is not at fault.
Described as the biggest change to housing law in Wales for decades, the act abolishes many of the old forms of tenancy replacing these with statutorily regulated occupation contracts.
Tim Thomas, Policy and Campaigns Officer for the organisation Propertymark, said the Welsh Government fails to understand the knock-on effect “strengthening of tenants’ rights will have on the confidence of landlords”.
“The private landlords our member agents represent have become important housing providers, but they need to know they can regain possession of their property when they need to do so,” he added.
“The best way to support tenants is to focus on policies that can increase the supply of housing rather those that will constrain it.”
In September the government launched a consultation on proposals to apply a six-month no-fault notice period to existing tenancies that convert to occupation contracts under the Act, to take effect from 1 June 2023 (the six-month notice period already applies to new contracts starting from next month).
Over 90% of the completed responses received to the consultation were from private landlords and lettings agents, the vast majority of whom were against extending the six-month notice periods to existing tenancies, and of those that were in agreement most favoured applying the change at a later date.
All tenants and tenant representative bodies that responded to the consultation were in favour of the proposed extension, with most also arguing it should be applied from 1 December rather than 1 June 2023.
Julie James, the Minister for Climate Change, who also has responsibility for housing, said: “Whilst noting the views of those landlords and agents that responded, I have decided that the societal and individual benefits accruing from the extension outweigh the negative impact on individual landlords, particularly in view of shorter notice periods of one month or less applying where there is a breach of contract.”
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