The Welsh government has passed legislation to permanently extend eviction laws, including the notice period landlords must give tenants to leave their property. Under the Renting Homes (Amendment)(Wales) Bill, tenants will also be able to sign up to a minimum twelve month rental contract.
‘No fault’ evictions have not been banned.
Changes were brought in as a temporary measure at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic to protect renters. At that time landlords were required to give tenants three months’ notice for eviction, and the change was originally due to end on 30th September but has since been extended. To protect tenants from homelessness, the only reason for an earlier eviction during this time was anti-social behaviour.
Tenants will be entitled to a notice period of six months, an increase from the previous two months’ notice required prior to the pandemic.
The government says making these permanent changes to legislation will give tenants ‘more protection, stability and security in their homes’ once the bill is in force.
Some have expressed fears that the changes may further deter landlords from letting property, thus reducing the housing supply. But landlords don’t want to evict tenants – they want paying tenants in their properties – so if the tenant pays the rent there is no reason for them to be evicted. If a tenant breaches their contract the landlord will still be able to repossess the property.
However, there are no changes in the legislation to protect tenants against bad landlords. Such practices as making demands for council tax, when tenants have been told that bills are included in the rent, have not been addressed. Some tenants even believe landlords could ignore eviction laws because the court process around repossession of rental property is so slow.
Indeed, during the pandemic, the National Residential Landlords Association estimated the length of time it took to evict a tenant through the courts at over 18 months.
Welsh government minister, Julie James, says that one in three renters in Wales will directly benefit from the law change and hopes a ‘clearer’ contract will result in a reduction of legal disputes and associated costs.
The bill is due to be introduced in spring 2022 once it has been fully scrutinised.