Shelter Cymru fears rise in ‘no fault’ evictions before new law comes into force in July
Ruth Power, Shelter Cymru CEO
On 24 March the Coronavirus Act 2020 comes to an end, meaning that eviction notice periods will revert from six months back down to two months. This spells the loss of vital breathing space that has helped give private tenants a more reasonable length of time to find somewhere new to live.
However, on 15 July the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 comes into force, putting notice periods for so-called ‘no-fault’ evictions back up to six months permanently for new tenants.
At Shelter Cymru, we are concerned that some private landlords and agents are viewing this four-month window – between two pieces of legislation designed to protect tenants – as a final opportunity to evict at short notice, perhaps to sell a property or to let to new tenants with similarly insecure tenancy contracts.
Our casework is already showing a 78% rise in ‘no-fault’ eviction notices (where the tenant has not done anything to break their tenancy agreement) compared with pre-pandemic.
When homelessness is high, rents are rising and the cost of living crisis is deepening, this change pulls the rug from under existing private tenants across Wales.
We know through our casework that landlords are being advised to ‘evict while they can’ during this four-month window. Landlords may think they can turn around a quick eviction and get new tenants in before the new law comes into force. But the reality is that eviction may well end up taking longer– in which case, not only will tenants be put at risk of avoidable homelessness, but landlords may find they need to very quickly get to grips with how to let under the welcome new law in place from 15 July, which gives more security to tenants.
We are seriously concerned about the prospect of rising evictions across Wales in the next four months. After a heroic effort to get people who were homeless into temporary accommodation at the start of the pandemic, homelessness services are at breaking point – as are many of the thousands of people still stuck in temporary accommodation. A feeding frenzy of evictions will make demand on homelessness services even worse.
The irony is that after 15 July, any new tenancy contract will have six months’ notice built in for a no-fault eviction. This is because the Welsh Government saw that giving people two months is just not enough to find somewhere suitable to live. Many of the tenants facing eviction at short notice over the coming months, through no fault of their own, will experience huge stress and uncertainty and may have to fall back on homelessness services as a last resort.
We understand that the Covid regulations couldn’t last forever, but the timing is deeply unfortunate, placing many tenants in a vulnerable position between one protection ending and another beginning. We are concerned about the people who will be caught in the gap. Anyone who is confused or worried about their housing situation should contact Shelter Cymru for free, independent advice at www.sheltercymru.org.uk.
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