A senior Conservative in Wales wants the Welsh Government to consider creating a housing tribunal in the light of rising tenant arrears.
Janet Finch-Saunders, Member of the Welsh Parliament for Aberconwy, says such a move would allow landlords and agents to seek more speedy justice in cases.
She says: “It is incredibly concerning that, at the point of possession, a landlord can have amassed costs of more than £30,000 when lost rent, legal fees and damage is calculated. Delays are also reported at every stage of the possession process, with the median time standing at 21.1 weeks by March 2020.
“Taken together, this results in a fundamental lack of faith in the present court system from our landlords and risks undermining the legal redress protections enacted for tenants by the Renting Homes Act. As legislation continues to diverge from England, it is clear that proactive, tried and tested intervention is now needed.”
Almost exactly a year ago the Welsh parliament recommended a probe into whether such a housing tribunal would work and now - in conjunction with Propertymark - Finch-Saunders wants that review to actually happen.
“Fair access to justice for both landlords and tenants is an essential part of a well-functioning housing market. We cannot be left with a situation where the present route to possession leaves landlords with immense financial burdens, pushing them towards the less problematic route of self-accommodation lets, and leaving tenants with problems around their mental well-being” she says.
Daryl McIntosh, Propertymark policy manager, has repeatedly called on the Welsh government to introduce a dedicated housing tribunal for Wales.
He comments: “Now is the time to act; when the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 is enforced next year, an entirely new tenancy regime will be created, bringing with it uncertainty for letting agents, landlords and tenants.
“A dedicated housing tribunal allows for free and accessible access to justice for all parties, from specialist judges whose knowledge would bring consistency in decisions. It is this specialist knowledge that will ensure the protections the Welsh Government intend to provide for tenants under the Act will not be undermined.
“A new system would also bring back confidence to landlords, who having been faced with adversity and a poor experience, are at risk of leaving the sector. At a time when the PRS in Wales is providing homes for over 200,000 households in Wales it is important that landlords can have faith in the protection of their assets when needed.”