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Julie James

Legislation to further suspend evictions comes into force

Deddfwriaeth ar gyfer atal troi allan am gyfnod hirach yn dod i rym

Legislation to further suspend evictions until 31st March 2021 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 introduced today will extend these measures to protect renters during the pandemic by preventing evictions 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 £50 million 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; and
  • 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 £50 million 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 6 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.

ENDS

Notes to editors

Notes

Landlords will still be able to issue eviction notices. The regulations will prevent bailiffs from evicting or serving notice of eviction on tenants from social or private rented homes in Wales.

Tenants can access free, confidential and independent debt advice by contacting Citizens Advice Cymru on the free private rented sector debt helpline - 0808 278 7920

Citizens Advice Cymru deliver debt advice services through the £1.4m Single Advice Fund, to support people to manage problem debt and improve their household income, ensuring that those most vulnerable, such as private sector tenants, can access the advice and support they need to manage their financial situation.

The Welsh Government’s Tenancy Saver Loan Scheme offers private sector tenants who are in rent arrears a low cost loan which is paid directly to the landlord or agents, to address debt and to prevent evictions. The loan is subject to eligibility and affordability criteria.