10:55 AM, 13th October 2022, About 12 months ago 2
A bid to impose a rent freeze in Wales has been voted down by Labour.
The move was made by Plaid Cymru who want to follow the Scottish Government’s legislation that will freeze rents until March next year.
However, government ministers say they will see what happens in Scotland, but one warned that there are ‘unintended consequences’ when imposing a rent freeze.
During the Senedd debate, ministers said a rent freeze could prompt landlords in Wales to stop letting properties or hike their rent before they are frozen by a new law.
Plaid Cymru’s Mabon ap Gwynfor told the session that there was an ‘immediate crisis’ in Wales and urged Labour members of the Senedd to ‘be brave, be bold’.
He said a market intervention was necessary to ‘defend tenants – many of which are the most vulnerable people in our society’.
Mr ap Gwynfor went on to criticise the Conservative members who had said that rent freeze would be ‘anti-landlord’ but a new law would be ‘anti-homelessness’.
He said: “Here today we have a proposal to at least do something to help many of those threatened with homelessness this winter, as opposed to doing nothing.”
He added that a rent freeze would be a temporary solution – as would a ban on evictions.
The Senedd was told that ‘many people’ will become homeless less this winter – a consequence of ‘doing nothing’.
in response, Julie James, the housing minister said the government had boosted funding to help local authorities help renters with their bills.
And, instead of freezing rent, she said the government was looking to target support at vulnerable people to keep them in their homes.
She said: “We don’t want to drive landlords away from the sector.”
Ms James then called on the UK government to unfreeze housing allowance which has not risen to keep pace with rent rises.
During the debate, some Labour members called on the government to impose long-term rent controls which is something that the government is considering.
The government says it will publish proposals on how it will help make rent more affordable in legislation with a white paper to be published.
One Labour member, Mike Hedges the MS for Swansea East said that imposing a rent freeze will in fact be superficially attractive and lead to landlord switching to create Airbnb’s – ‘the wild West of housing’.
The Labour north Wales MS, Carolyn Thomas, said the time for a rent freeze ‘isn’t now’ because the situation is too complex, volatile and risky because of the UK government’s economic and political crisis.
Janet Finch-Saunders, a Conservative MS, said that rent controls are a ‘nightmare’ and that the debate created by Plaid Cymru was trying ‘to do down the private rented sector’ with most landlords providing quality accommodation for their tenants.