Insights and Opinions Calum Davies 06/04/2021

How the next Welsh Government can better support landlords and tenants

In the second of our series of blogs ahead of the Senedd Cymru/Welsh Parliament election, we look at support for landlords and tenants. The NRLA is conscious of the need for a balanced approach and a private rented sector that works for all. Here, we explore proposals that will help to build a fairer, better functioning sector that works in the interests of both landlords and tenants.

Firstly, the introduction of a tenant passport: this would allow a landlord to access live data on a prospective tenant, including credit ratings, employment status, and references to establish whether they would be likely to be able to sustain the offered tenancy and potentially identify future support needs. This benefits both parties by speeding up the moving in process and reassures landlords that they will get a reliable tenant. This reflects recent legislation like the introduction of Rent Smart Wales (RSW) and the fees ban that helps tenants identify compliant landlords.

The other element of the passport surrounds the deposit. This would allow the deposit for a tenant’s existing property to transfer seamlessly to their new landlord, meaning there would be no need to raise a second deposit before securing a new home. This solving of the “cash-flow” issue is due to come in in England, and Wales should not fall behind.

Our second proposal calls for the introduction of greater assistance for vulnerable tenants. The current social housing system continues to show its inability to cope with demand. Given the present situation it’s crucial that tenants struggling to make ends meet be given the opportunity to access the extra assistance they would normally receive from the social sector in the PRS.

How can this be addressed? By offering help for those with short-term problems and support needs that can affect their ability to sustain a tenancy. The NRLA also believes Landlord Support Officers in each local authority should complement RSW’s objective of improving and professionalising the sector. This will help provide support for private residential landlords who do not have the resources, training, and staff that social landlords do to help vulnerable tenants.

One example of a successful scheme along these lines can be found in Salford City Council’s Property Link. Launched in 2019, Property Link matches landlords with tenants to reduce housing waiting lists. Over 200 people have found new homes as a result and now the agency is going one step further, offering landlords a free advice service to tackle any problems they may have (such as arrears and tenant disputes). Wales could be a leading force in resourcing innovative schemes like this to make sure the PRS thrives.

Finally, there is the subject of anti-social behaviour. With the passage of the Renters’ Reform Bill in Wales, landlords will no longer be able to use S21 (S173 once the Bill’s provisions are implemented) to gain possession of their property if they have anti-social tenants. Currently landlords are faced with taking their tenants to court to gain possession and there are often significant delays which existed pre-pandemic.

This not only puts their property and finances at risk – it also negatively affects neighbours and other tenants who have to suffer the consequences of anti-social behaviour. To protect good tenants and good landlords, anti-social behaviour should be made a mandatory ground for possession. During the pandemic, the Welsh Government recognised the danger of anti-social behaviour and made it an exemption to the possession ban and extended notice periods. This is the logical next step.

Our proposals demonstrate the NRLA’s commitment to improving the lot of landlords and tenants and shows how much more the Welsh Government can do for them. We will continue to campaign for all parties to make supporting landlords and tenants their mantra when it comes to the PRS.