Ending Wales’ evictions ban is an irresponsible move in the middle of a housing and Covid crisis
Mabon ap Gwynfor MS, Plaid Cymru Spokesperson for Housing
Everyone should have a right to a home but the current housing crisis is deepening and stark inequalities are at play – from the proliferation of luxurious second homes on the one side to homelessness and long waiting lists on the other.
67,000 families are on housing waiting lists across Wales.
But last week, the Welsh Labour Government went ahead with lifting the ban that has been in place during Covid which has meant that tenants have not been turned out of their homes for no reason.
Lifting the no fault evictions ban is reckless and puts countless people across Wales at risk of homelessness. Eviction is one of the leading causes of homelessness, so instead of talking about homelessness and throwing millions of pounds at the problem after its occurrence, it would make more sense to extend this policy and stop homelessness before it starts.
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.
The Government initially said it was banning so-called ‘no fault evictions’ during Covid in order to help tenants facing financial difficulties. Now it says it was to stop the spread of Covid – and I’m concerned about this change of emphasis.
By removing the ban now there is a real danger that we will see many more people losing their homes; becoming homeless.
Instead, a new system of fair rents should be put in place for the future. An opportunity for a more progressive policy to enhance tenants rights.
Even the UK Government is preparing a tenants bill and discussing getting rid of no fault evictions, although the Tories in Wales didn’t support the Plaid amendments in recent legislation that would have brought that forward in Wales.
There should be a Fair Rents Bill to provide tenancies of indefinite duration and end no fault evictions.
All rents would need to be assessed as fair with a rent cap for increases in rental pressure zones.
It’s true that in February next year some new rules will come into force to give tenants more rights – but section 21 remains and the problematic ‘no fault evictions’ clause will remain.
To me, it makes sense to enhance tenants rights, to get rid of section 21 to prevent homelessness in the first place rather than financing schemes to deal with the homelessness that this legislation creates down the line.
Houses are not financial assets. They are homes.