From today, landlords and letting agents in Wales will be able to point tenants struggling with rent, income, or housing benefits in the direction of a new independent advice service.
Run by Citizens Advice Cymru, the Private Rented Sector Helpline will be a free, confidential, independent service that will advise tenants on ways in which they can maximise their income and manage debt – with a view to helping them pay their rent if they can and hold on to their tenancies.
The service is being funded by the Welsh Government which “recognises the support that many landlords and letting agents are already offering tenants”.
With the end of the UK Government furlough scheme approaching and the upcoming end of the stay on possession court proceedings, it is important that tenants and landlords have a source of advice on how to handle financial issues caused by coronavirus.
Citizens Advice says if tenants are having problems because of the pandemic, there are:
- conversations they can have with their landlord to end a tenancy, get repairs done or deal with rent increases
- steps they can take if they’re struggling to pay their rent
- temporary new rules their landlord must follow if they want to get them to leave or evicted
- ways to get help if they’re homeless or can’t keep living in their home
The number for the advice line is 0300 3302177. This line will is open from Monday to Friday from 9:00–17:00.
If the matter can wait until an appointment, advisors will book an appointment with a caseworker for a time that suits the client – and is within any time limits. The service will be offered in both English and Welsh, and Citizens’ Advice will work closely with a third-party organisation for other languages.
NRLA Wales welcomes this new source of support after long calling for services available to social tenants to be extended to the PRS: social housing has a dedicated money matters teams amongst other support so we believe this marks a good start to equalising support between the social sector and more vulnerable people in the PRS.
The advice line launch comes a few weeks after it was announced the Welsh Government were adopting the NRLA proposal of low-interest loans for tenants to cover arrears: the Tenancy Saver Loans will be paid directly to the landlords and can cover arrears as far back as March 2020.
The loan scheme is expected to open for applications later this month.