Legislation to further suspend evictions in Wales will come into force from Monday 11 January, the Minister for Housing and Local Government, Julie James, has confirmed.
The Welsh government had already agreed measures to suspend evictions from social and private rented accommodation between December 11 and January 11 this year as part of its response to tackling the spread of Coronavirus and protect public health.
The legislation will extend the measures to protect renters during the pandemic by preventing evictions till 31 March 2021 – except in cases of anti-social behaviour or domestic violence.
Housing and Local Government minister Julie James said: “We are taking further action to protect public health and support Welsh tenants.
“This is an extremely difficult time for many people and renters should not be forced out of their homes, at a time when we are asking people to stay at home and when they will have less access to advice, support and alternative accommodation.”
The extension is part of a wider package of Welsh government funded measures to protect tenants and public health during the crisis, which include:
- Investing up to £50m to tackle homelessness and to increase the number of both temporary and permanent homes
- Announcing an additional £40m Housing Support Grant and £4m Homelessness Prevention Grant, both focused on tackling and preventing homelessness and providing the support people need in the draft budget
- Increased the notice period for evictions from three to six months
- Introduced a new low interest, affordable Tenancy Saver Loan scheme paid directly to landlords or agents for tenants in rent arrears because of COVID-19
- Established a private rented sector helpline run by Citizen Advice Cymru for tenants struggling with rent, income or housing benefits
Julie James said: “Helping vulnerable people into accommodation so they can access handwashing and hygiene facilities, can social distance and self-isolate if they have symptoms has been the main focus of the work by local authorities.
“We know that people who are homeless are at a higher risk of contracting Coronavirus. One of the best ways of tackling homelessness is to prevent it happening to begin with, and this is just one of the steps we are taking as many people face uncertainty.
“This year, we are investing up to £50m to tackle homelessness, which is not simply about ensuring that no-one need sleep rough, but to transform services to ensure there are permanent homes for people who are at risk of being homeless.
“While these changes offer greater protection to tenants, they are not an excuse for people not to pay their rent if they are able to, and address any financial problems they are experiencing.
“Having an early conversation with landlords to work out a way forward is vital, as is getting the right debt advice.”
The extension of the notice period for evictions to six months will also remain in place until 31st March 2021.
Both regulations will be kept under review, and the suspension of evictions will be subject to a confirmatory vote in the Senedd.
The move comes as the Scottish government also announces an extension to its evictions ban.
Regulations will be set out in the Scottish Parliament on 14 January to extend the ban to the end of March, which is currently due to end on 22 January.
Earlier today, the UK government also announced that it would be extending the evictions ban in England to 21 February.
Are you a social housing professional? Sign up for a FREE MEMBERSHIP to upload news stories, post job vacancies, and connect with colleagues on our secure social feed.