My Lords, I wish the House to understand the view of the Welsh Government on the importance of housing and the private rented sector. It is a humane and supportive way of dealing with the fundamental issue of people having a decent home.
In February, the Welsh Government introduced an amendment to their housing Bill. The aim of the Bill was to improve security of tenure for those who rent their home in Wales. Although its provisions will apply to all landlords, its greatest impact will be felt in the private rented sector. Increased security of tenure would be achieved by amending the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 to extend the minimum notice period for a notice given under Section 173 from two to six months, and to restrict the issuing of such a notice until six months after the occupation date of the contract, currently set at four months. The net effect of these changes would be to double the length of time before a landlord could seek possession at the beginning of a contract from six months to one year.
The Minister for Housing and Local Government in the Senedd said that she was committed to ensuring that the Government continue to protect renters, while at the same time mitigating impacts on landlords and protecting communities from the harmful effects of anti-social behaviour. Where rent arrears have accumulated due to Covid-19, private rented sector tenants will be able to apply for a loan through the tenancy saver loan scheme, which opens at the end of this month and will provide £1.4 million to manage debt problems. Looking beyond the pandemic, the Welsh Government will continue with their Bill to amend the Act to increase the security of tenure, meaning that security of tenure in Wales will be greater than elsewhere in the UK.
This ground-breaking legislation sends out a very clear message—a secure home is essential and forms the basis of a decent society. The regret Motion in the name of my noble friend Lord Ponsonby follows that sense of decency in trying to protect tenants in England from eviction. I urge this Government to look at what we are doing in Wales to support people, particularly in these most difficult of times.