Insights and Opinions Tim Thomas 30/11/2021

Blog: NRLA welcomes Welsh homelessness support

The NRLA have welcomed the Welsh Government commitment to end homelessness with the announcement of £30 million of funding for Welsh local authorities and the launch of a pan-Wales social leasing scheme.

Under the Private Rented Sector Leasing Scheme, landlords will have the opportunity to lease their properties to local authorities in return for a guaranteed rent up to Local Housing Allowance level (LHA.) Additional incentives include funding to improve the condition of their property including grants and interest free loans and the guarantee that the property would be returned to the landlord in the original condition.

During the pathfinder pilot project – which included Cardiff, Carmarthenshire, Conwy and later Rhondda Cynnon Taff, Ceredigion and Newport – the NRLA actively promoted the scheme in landlord forums and through social media.

It is pleasing that following the pilot stage, that more flexibility is being offered to landlords wishing to engage with the scheme.  Previously, landlords could offer their properties for a period of five years.  The evaluation of the scheme revealed that some landlords wanted to engage slightly less than the five years while others wanted a longer-term commitment resulting in the option of tenures up to 20 years.

For the scheme to work, the NRLA has also recommended, that the scheme should continue to offer tenant support either provided by local authorities or partner organisations to help tenant's with any difficulties they are experiencing.

One of the major barriers for landlords wishing to engage in the scheme was that rent was only set at Local Housing Allowance (LHA) level less 10% for a management fee.  We acknowledge that the hands-off approach and long-term management of their properties would be an incentive in itself for some landlords.   At the very least, we would encourage local authorities to consider wavering the 10% management fee to make the scheme more financially viable. It is also pleasing that grants have been increased to £5,000 and up to £25,000 for empty properties. Landlords should also note, that propeties need to be up to the Welsh Housing Quality Standard (WHQS.) If a property is already up to this standard, then the grant can be used to get the property up to a C grade EPC. 

We also recommend that any housing condition checks and checks for certification must be streamlined to ensure that the process is not overly bureaucratic and accessible for all landlords. To ensure the longevity of the scheme, local authorities will have to have staff and resources in place to support landlords and advertise the scheme to ensure take up is high.  

The pathfinder pilot project also appeared to have positive outcomes for tenants, especially those who are at the most risk of experiencing homelessness.  Given the difficulties in communication during the pandemic, it is likely that this scheme will gain more traction as a national roll out.

We will continue to both promote and scrutinise the scheme to ensure that landlords views are heard and that the scheme continues to be of value for both landlords and tenants.

  • Read the NRLA's response to this announcement in our press release, here