While the Westminster government has extended its version of the eviction ban in England until February 21, a longer ban – until March 31 – comes into effect in Wales today.
The Welsh Government had already agreed measures to suspend evictions until January 11 but legislation passed in Cardiff extended that until the end of March, with the usual exceptions of anti-social behaviour or domestic violence.
Welsh Government housing and local government minister Julie James says: “We are taking further action to protect public health and support Welsh tenants. This is an extremely difficult time for many people and renters should not be forced out of their homes, at a time when we are asking people to stay at home and when they will have less access to advice, support and alternative accommodation.”
Unlike in England, the devolved Cardiff administration has introduced a new low interest Tenancy Saver Loan scheme paid directly to landlords or agents for tenants in rent arrears because of Covid-19.
There is also a private rented sector helpline run by Citizen Advice Cymru for tenants struggling with rent, income or housing benefits.
“While these changes offer greater protection to tenants, they are not an excuse for people not to pay their rent if they are able to, and address any financial problems they are experiencing” explains James.
“Having an early conversation with landlords to work out a way forward is vital, as is getting the right debt advice.”
Ben Beadle, chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, says in response to the Welsh move: “The Tenancy Saver Loan, already announced for Welsh tenants, will help sustain tenancies and it is important that as many people who need it, can access it and why the Welsh Government should increase its promotion to encourage take-up.
“Ensuring tenants have the financial support to stay in their homes is the best way to prevent repossession. However, in addition to antisocial behaviour, landlords must be able to take action against those with extreme arrears, especially those that predate Covid, and particularly where tenants are not availing themselves of the financial support available, or do not meet the criteria.
“Depriving a landlord of their right to evict in these circumstances, in absence of any direct financial support, must be reviewed.”
This post has originally been featured in Letting Agent Today.