What are the main parties offering renters in Wales

May 06, 2021 10:56 AM

Today (6th May) voters in Wales will elect 60 members of the Welsh Parliament (Senedd). We have published a manifesto here.

What we're demanding

Renting in Wales needs to be safer, fairer and more secure. Welsh renters can still be evicted for no reason, they need more stability and an end to Section 21 'no fault' evictions. There also needs to be tougher penalties for landlords who break the law. Wales now has a national register of landlords, however, there are still improvements that could be made to protect renters from criminals. Renters in Wales remain vulnerable to rent increases. Even though these can technically be challenged through the Rent Assessment Committee, only three did this in 2019/20. This must change.

What have the main parties said on these key issues? 

1) Security on tenure

Plaid Cymru have said they will end 'no fault' evictions during the economic fall-out from Covid-19 and implement a "new system of fair rents for the future". Meanwhile, the Greens promise they will "provide greater security for tenants by phasing out Assured Shorthold Tenancies in the private sector."

No other of the main parties make any promises on security of tenure.

2) Housing standards and enforcement

All the parties have committed to improving housing standards in some form.

Labour say they will continue to improve existing homes, helping to tackle fuel poverty. Plaid Cymru plan to deal with poor landlords that don’t meet housing standards or social responsibilities. 

The Conservatives have committed to achieving and maintaining the Welsh Housing Quality Standard and introducing a Student Accommodation Quality Standard for halls of residence. They would also "ensure housing standards are fit for purpose, future proofed with improved accessibility for all."

The Liberal Democrats have promised to establish a single fund for housing adaptations, so that landlords can access support to pay for necessary changes to their properties. They plan to set a clear minimum standard for private rented housing, including energy standards, with a firm timescale to meet this standard. Finally they want to pass a Green Homes Act to help cut average household energy bills by £500 per year and build smarter, more energy efficient homes.

Finally, the Greens say they will "ensure sufficient, ongoing investment to enable the retrofitting of existing housing stock to the highest energy efficient standards, lifting thousands out of fuel poverty."

3) Registration of landlords

Labour and Plaid Cymru have made promises to reform Rent Smart Wales. Labour promise to ensure Rent Smart Wales landlords "respond quickly to complaints of racism and hate crime and offer appropriate support." Meanwhile, Plaid Cymru say they that through Rent Smart Wales, landlords will be subject to annual vetting and struck off if they fail to comply. Local Authorities will then be given an opportunity to buy these properties to renovate and put out for rental.

No other of the main parties say anything on the registration of landlords.

4) Affordability

All of the main parties have committed to an affordable homes target. Labour plan to build 20,000 new, low carbon social homes for rent. Plaid Cymru want to create 50,000 public homes over the next five years – 30,000 council houses or other social housing, 5,000 cost rental homes at intermediate rent, and 15,000 genuinely affordable homes to buy. The Conservatives say they will launch an "ambitious target" to build 100,000 homes over the next 10 years, including 40,000 social homes. The Liberal Democrats have promised to build 30,000 new social homes for rent. Finally, the Green Party plan to build 12,000 new homes every year, built to the highest environmental and energy efficiency standards.

Alongside these targets, Labour and Plaid Cymru have proposed further policies to improve affordability. Labour plan to develop a national scheme, restricting rent to local housing allowance levels. Meanwhile, Plaid Cymru promise that all rents will be assessed as "fair" and there will be a rent cap for increases. The Greens plan to ensure that tenants are protected from the inequalities of the ‘Bedroom Tax’ by the use of Discretionary Housing Payments.

5) Fairer renting

Most of the main parties have committed to a fairer system than Council Tax. Labour want to reform council tax "to ensure a fairer system for all." Plaid Cymru have outlined a more proportional council tax, which will "narrow the gap in property wealth between owners of high and low value properties."  The Conservatives say they will deliver a Council Tax freeze for at least the next two years. The Liberal Democrats say they will investigate changes to the funding of local government, including replacing Council Tax. The Greens do not mention any Council Tax reforms in their manifesto.

Some of the main parties have proposed other means of making renting fairer. Plaid Cymru promise they will make tenancies transferable between generations as they were under the 1977 Rent Act. The Conservatives say they will "explore options to make it easier for tenants to move home, including the introduction of deposit passporting." And the Liberal Democrats want to roll out the current “private sector leasing scheme” more widely. Under this scheme, private landlords can choose to lease their properties to councils for five years, providing housing for people on low incomes or with experience of homelessness.