NRLA calls on Welsh Government to get a grip on rent arrears
Government must reform eviction ban and fix Tenant Saver Loan scheme to avert debt crisis
In the run-up to May’s Welsh election, the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) have called on the Welsh Government to improve financial support and end restrictions that have plunged tenants and landlords into debt.
The Association, which represents over 90,000 members across England & Wales, believes the current arrangements are counter-productive and ultimately are not in the wider interests of either landlords or tenants.
As a result, the NRLA is urgently calling on the Welsh Government to:
- Reform of the eviction ban: The current eviction ban in Wales came into effect on 11 December and is set to end on 31 March 2021. It includes exemptions for cases citing anti-social behaviour, trespass, and abandonment. Unlike in England, no such exemption exists for extreme rent arrears. Landlords must be allowed to end failed tenancies, especially where debt began to accrue before the first lockdown.
- Widen access to Tenancy Saver Loans: The Welsh Government launched a Tenancy Saver Loan scheme last autumn to help tenants cover their arrears giving five years to repay their credit union lender. However, it is not open to those with unable to meet strict “creditworthiness” criteria, thereby excluding those most at need.
- Provide an exit strategy: Publish a clear timetable for transitioning from emergency measures, including an exit from the extended notice periods that were introduced in Spring 2020.
Whilst supportive of the tenancy saver loan scheme, the NRLA is calling on the Welsh Government to lower the eligibility threshold for the loan scheme so “creditworthiness” issues are considered within the context of the pandemic. The membership organisation for landlords is also asking for the 1% interest rate on the loan to be scrapped, with the credit unions compensated from the funding pot.
Ben Beadle, Chief Executive, NRLA said:
“The Welsh Government needs to get a grip of the rent debt crisis that is engulfing renters and landlords. Access to the Tenancy Saver Loan scheme must be widened to include more renters in need.
“If action is not taken now, there will come a time when emergency measures are finally lifted when a failure to deal with rent debt will lead to tenants having to leave their homes, facing serious damage to their credit scores.
“It is time for the Welsh Government to recognise the scale of this crisis and take urgent action to help households and housing providers.”