BLOG: Senedd Committee considers amendments for possession reform Bill
Last Friday, members of the Equality, Local Government, and Communities Committee considered amendments put forward to the Renting Homes (Amendment) Bill, the purpose of which is to give private tenants 12-months’ security of tenure.
The Bill, which will amend the as-yet-implemented Renting Homes Act 2016 to give greater protection to tenants, does this through its two central proposals: creating six-month notice periods under S173 (the replacement for S21) and restricting landlords from serving such a notice in the first six months of a tenancy.
The Committee’s membership – chaired by John Griffiths (Lab, Newport East) and includes Dawn Bowden (Lab, Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney), Huw Irranca-Davies (Lab, Ogmore), and Mandy Jones (IAR, North Wales) – heard amendments proposed by the Welsh Government, the Conservatives, and Plaid Cymru.
Proposed NRLA amendment considered
The Minister for Housing & Local Government Julie James (Lab, Swansea West) put forward amendments, all which were agreed by the Committee, which included one proposal put forward by the NRLA that was recommended by the Committee during stage one of proceedings.
The purpose of this amendment is to increase from 14 days (as originally proposed in the Bill) to 28 days, the period during which a landlord may withdraw and reissue a S173 notice, without being made subject to a six-month restriction on issuing a notice following withdrawal of a previous notice.
Shadow Housing Minister Mark Isherwood (Con, North Wales), who also sits on the Committee, put forward several amendments, including those designed to represent NRLA suggestions that would still give tenants a year’s security of tenure but allow greater flexibility so landlords can preserve an annual cycle, as is often necessary in the student sector.
One NRLA concern has been partially ameliorated as the Minister, despite resisting a Welsh Conservative amendment to the Bill, indicated that she could use regulation-making powers to exempt armed forces personnel who need to take possession of their rental home to live in if they are themselves evicted from service accommodation. This is because the Bill creates an aberration as Ministry of Defence notices will not affected.
Committee member and Plaid Cymru’s housing spokesperson, Delyth Jewell (PC, South Wales East) also suggested amendments. Like Mr Isherwood’s, these were all rejected. Ms Jewell’s amendments were all designed to further tip the balance in favour of tenants, even going as far as to suggest creating notice periods of 10 years and, elsewhere, two years’ security of tenure.
The Bill now moves onto stage three of its legislative path. It is likely this part – where the whole Senedd debates and attempts to amend the Bill – will take place in January, with the final stage four taking place not long after.
If passed, the Act should receive royal assent before the Welsh Parliament is dissolved in March ahead of the 2021 election. The then-amended 2016 Act is then expected to be implemented in Spring 2022. Landlords will get a six-months’ “head’s up” of its commencement as 2021 is used to consult on and draft resources such as model contracts and fitness for human habitation standards.