Monday, 18 November 2013

Housing Bill to Tackle Wales' Rogue Landlords and Homelessness

Unscrupulous landlords and family homelessness will be targeted under new legislation over housing in Wales.

The Welsh government is publishing its first Housing Bill since it gained full law making powers in 2011.

In May 2012 ministers outlined plans to tackle homelessness, improve conditions in private rented homes and provide more housing.

Minister Carl Sargeant will launch the bill on a visit to a housing charity in Cardiff on Monday.

The Welsh government's White Paper - which sets out its intentions for the bill - included a proposal that would see private landlords having to sign a mandatory register before they could take on tenants.

It also described the private rented sector as having "extremes" of good and bad practice.

Although there are good landlords, it said some tenants were put in difficult situations by unscrupulous operators, with many enduring "poor conditions, insecurity and, sometimes, threats of eviction".

"The latter, combined with the lack of other options, means that many people, often vulnerable people, put up with the questionable practices of some landlords and lettings and management agents," the white paper said.

"In some cases, it also includes questionable charges and costs."

Other measures in the White Paper included a pledge to tackle the "blight" of empty properties by giving local authorities the power to increase council tax on properties empty for longer than a year.

Since the White Paper was published there has been a change of minister for housing with Carl Sargeant taking over from Huw Lewis, who is currently education minister.

Launching the White Paper in May 2012, Mr Lewis had said: "This is about much more than putting a roof over someone's head.

"Housing issues affect people's health and wellbeing and their ability to find and keep a job.

"For children, it is the foundation for the rest of their lives. In short, housing is fundamental to delivering many of our goals as a progressive government."

The bill is also expected to set a goal of ending family homelessness in Wales by the end of the decade.

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