Welsh housing minister Julie James has announced in a series of tweets that she is to reform the evictions process is Wales in a way that will give tenants year-long contracts by default.
At the moment Welsh tenants, like their English counterparts, have a minimum contract period of six months when signing up to an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, but James says Wales is now to go further and extend this to a year.
“I am optimistic that we can overcome the final barriers to implementing our [act] and that tenants will feel all the benefits of the changes before the end of this assembly,” the minister says.
But unlike England, the Welsh government does not have plans to offer alternative routes for landlords to evict tenants should they wish to move back into a property, sell or comprehensively refurbish it.
The changes to the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016, which contains the equivalent to Section 21 ‘no fault’ eviction legislation in England, have been heavily criticised by the Residential Landlords Association’s Vice Chair in Wales.
“This is a scandalous move that is essentially introducing 12-month contracts by default,” says Douglas Haig (pictured, below).
“Creating a situation where a property cannot be repossessed within the first six months and then introducing a further six-month notice period could cause huge problems for landlords.
“They will be left powerless when it comes to problem tenants, who will be legally allowed to stay in the property for a year. If tenants are not paying rent, huge arrears could build up in this time.
“We will be warning government that this move could cause serious damage to landlord confidence and the availability of homes to rent in Wales, at a time when demand continues to increase.”
David Cox, Chief Executive of ARLA Propertymark, says: “Extending notice periods to six months is absurd. It means that landlords will have to wait half a year before they can start court proceedings, which then takes 22 weeks on average before the tenant is actually evicted.
“Therefore, this means that tenants could build up almost a year in rent arrears before a Possession Order is enforced; potentially causing landlords to be repossessed by their mortgage lender. In another example, if the tenant is being evicted for anti-social behaviour, these proposals mean that neighbours would be forced to endure up to 12 months of the tenant from hell. This is illogical and will only damage the sector and local communities.”