Last updated: 18 June 2021
When the Covid-19 outbreak came to the UK, the devolved administrations followed the steps of the UK Government fairly closely. However, there has been some divergence between the UK Government and the Welsh Government in dealing with the pandemic.
Here, we detail some of the key differences and give further information on what the Welsh Government and local authorities are doing that landlords should know during the pandemic.
Remember, if you decide to write to your representatives, you have five Members of the Senedd (Welsh Parliament) - one constituency and four regional - in addition to your Member of the UK Parliament.
NRLA Wales Arrears Survey
If you are a landlord in Wales with a tenant who has built up arrears during the pandemic or is still in the property having built up arrears before the pandemic, then complete our 2 minute survey.
- Moving house is still allowed with appropriate hygiene and distancing measures in place. Guidance can be read here.
- Property viewings can continue, though virtual viewings are encouraged.
- Repairs, maintenance, cleaning and gardening services can continue with appropriate hygiene and distancing measures.
- Possession notices can still be served but the possession ban remains in place until 30 June. Read more below
More details about the general measures being taken can be read here.
- The suspension on eviction enforcement is in place until 30 June 2021.
- The suspension does not stop possession proceedings continuing through the courts, but it does prevent bailiff enforcement action in all cases except antisocial behaviour, trespass, and abandonment.
- The ban is in place until the end of May 2021 in England.
- Wales has not followed England in making one of the exemptions to the ban those with arrears in excess of six months.
- The extended notice periods - which are six months for all cases bar those citing anti-social behaviour - will remain in place until 30 September 2021.
England & Wales
What are the similarities in housing?
The Welsh Government’s approach to the private rented sector is not too dissimilar to the UK Government’s. Particular points to note include:
- Justice is not devolved so the suspension of possession cases is the same across England and Wales. Courts have been able to hear possession cases since 21 September.
- Rules surrounding Energy Performance Certificates. If a new tenancy is about to start in Wales, you should see whether or not the new tenancy can be delayed until after the restrictions are lifted.
- Mortgage holidays arrangements are UK-wide.
- Welfare remains in Westminster control so the benefits system is the same for those in England and Wales. However, each government has made extra funds available.
What’s happened to possession in Wales?
On 23 July, the Welsh Government announced that possession notices served on 24 July and onwards will be six months – aside from on grounds on anti-social behaviour which remain at three months – for private rented sector dwellings in Wales.
On 15 September, it was announced that on 1 October 2020, notices to quit citing anti-social behaviour and domestic violence will revert to pre-pandemic lengths. This means for a S8 notice in Wales, the notice period will be a one month for Ground 7a and immediately for Ground 14. The extended notice periods are in place until 30 September 2021.
These changes are not retroactive, so the notice period remains what it was at the time it was served. Read more via the Welsh Government's FAQs here.
Tenancy Saver Loan
The Welsh Government has introduced a loan for tenants to cover their arrears. The loan will cover arrears that appeared because of coronavirus (since 1 March) and will be paid directly to the landlord. The tenants will have five years to repay the loans will come at 1% APR interest. The scheme will be administered by the Wales Council of Voluntary Action, delivered by credit unions, and funded by a £8m Welsh Government pot. We will update this page when more details arise.
This has been something the NRLA has campaigned for throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. We believe this is a fair settlement that gives the tenant a sustainable means to pay back their arrears without shifting the debt onto the landlord. We are warning landlords who benefit from the loan not to evict their tenant as a result.
What guidance has the Welsh Government published?
The Welsh Government has published guidance for private landlords, tenants, and local authorities. Make sure to look at this yourself so you can see what Ministers are asking you to do and how councils have been told they should approach enforcement of standards in the private rented sector.
In short, landlords are still expected to fulfil their obligations, taking into account the health of tenants, tradespeople, and themselves. If someone visits an occupied rental property, it is very important that both they and you follow the guidance on social distancing. Read the guidance on going into other people’s homes.
Tenancy Hardship Grant
On 30th June, the Welsh Government launched a replacement scheme for the Tenancy Saver Loan - the Tenancy Hardship Grant - which will allow those in arrears to claim money to cover arrears accrued between 1 March 2020-30 June 2021 if they were Covid-related.
This will be open to applications - and this page will be updated - in mid-July, with all loans given under the TSL scheme converted into grants. However, interest in the grant can be registered now.
The next Wales webinar, covering PRS-related coronavirus measures, is at 6pm on Wednesday 30th June 2021. You can register to watch this here. The webinar will be recorded and available to watch again soon after.