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Opinion

Shelter Cymru fears rise in ‘no fault’ evictions before new law comes into force in July

23 Mar 2022 3 minute read
Photo by es74273 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

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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huwdavies
huwdavies
6 months ago

Shelter doing nothing other than stirring a bit of anxiety among tenants. Most small time landlords value having continuity of tenants in much the same way as tenants value continuity of tenure. At the extremes there are lousy landlords who are normally easily identifiable, and equally lousy tenants who are abusive of the relationship in a variety of ways. There will be scope under the new rules for evicting bad tenants, the no fault eviction is normally a planned event leading up to a sale, rebuilding project or some other activity where there is an element of visibility due to… Read more »

blc
blc
6 months ago
Reply to  huwdavies

As a private tenant I can confidently confirm that it’s no fun to constantly live with the possibility of being forcibly removed from your home through no fault of your own. And as someone who has previously had a lousy landlord, I can further assure you that in that situation there is practically nothing you can do about it as a tenant because of the threat of no fault Section 21 notices. All a landlord has to do is say they’re going to sell the property, evict the tenant, leave it empty for a month or two, then say they’ve… Read more »

hdavies15
hdavies15
6 months ago
Reply to  blc

I understand what you are referring to and I accept that there is a minority of mean minded people letting houses/flats. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been there in my younger days that I am content currently to have a long term tenant in my (shared) property. It makes life a lot easier that there is a moderately sane relationship where the place meets the needs of the tenant family and they pay their rent on time. If the roof leaked I’d get it fixed, if the drain blocks up then it gets sorted. External walls are my responsibility, internal decor… Read more »

What Ismyname
What Ismyname
6 months ago
Reply to  blc

This is exactly why I went through years of poverty and sacrifice 30-40 years ago, to the extent of cutting food and rationing paid prescriptions, so I could eventually buy my own house. I lost even more and sacrificed even more each time I had to sell in order to move. However. now at least I only have energy bills and council tax to worry about, and also know that no one can ever throw me out of my home. It is decrepit, with rising damp and few mod cons, but it is my place of safety and thus far… Read more »

hdavies15
hdavies15
6 months ago
Reply to  What Ismyname

Rising damp is a health risk. I’m sure that if you speak to your local authority they will be able to point you to some scheme that will assist with remedial work. Even a local builder may know of how funding can be obtained as he may have done similar for other homeowners in an area of ageing properties. Give it a try and it may produce a positive result.

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