Senedd Committee backs NRLA recommendations on possession reform Bill

Posted on Friday, October 2, 2020

The Equality, Local Government, and Communities Committee today released its scrutiny report on the Bill. Among the recommendations are NRLA calls asking the Welsh Government to:

  • bring forward amendments to extend the period in which a notice can be withdrawn  - without having to wait a further six months before issuing a new notice - from 14 to 28 days
  • commission a report on the lack of data surrounding the PRS in order to identify solutions
  • explore the feasibility of a housing court/tribunal and, if so, to prioritise its introduction
  • investigate whether there is a need for more mandatory grounds for possession
  • undertake post-legislative scrutiny of the 2016 Act – as part of this to ensure landlords have the legislative tools necessary to address anti-social behaviour.

The NRLA is also pleased the report highlights points of view that support monitoring the effects of legislation on the size of the private rented sector (PRS):

“For example, UK Finance said the impact evaluation project should “consider the impact on Buy-to-Let lending in the Welsh market”. Tai Pawb also supported calls to monitor the impact on lender behaviour calling it “absolutely crucial” as well as the impact on the size of the PRS in areas where it is “desperately needed” due to a lack of other housing tenures being available.”

NRLA has mooted other changes to the legislation - which it will continue to lobby for. These include:

  • Allowing for a six-month S173 notice to be served after four months, but not to take effect until immediately after the six-month moratorium ends. This will give tenants more notice (and time to prepare for moving) but will also offer the landlord flexibility to preserve the annual business cycle and reduce the chance of administrative errors.
  • Ensuring legal challenges to a S173 notice by a tenant would need to be raised within 28 days of service.
  • Addressing the issue for armed forces personnel who could be left homeless by making such landlords exempt from having to give six-month notices through regulations or including them in the schedules for the Bill.

NRLA Wales will be fighting to get MSs to lay amendments to introduce these clauses into the legislation to ensure landlords can still operate their business effectively.

The next stage for the Bill is a Senedd debate on its general principles to be held on Tuesday 13th October. Following this, the Bill can be amended by Members of the Senedd. This will first be considered at committee, then plenary stage. The Bill in its final form will then be voted on by all MSs. This must be completed before the Welsh Parliament is dissolved ahead of the election in May.

The Welsh Government has said the Renting Homes Act 2016 that this Bill will amend, and which will significantly reform the PRS in Wales, should then be implemented in autumn 2021, with a six-month warning for landlords and tenants of that commencement.