Julie James AM, Minister for Housing and Local Government
We have seen significant changes to our day-to-day lives over the last few weeks. These changes include strict new rules to control the spread of Covid-19. The message is clear – stay home to save lives.
A safe and secure place to live has rarely been more important. As a Government we have been working hard to ensure that tenants in the social and private rental sectors can rely on having a safe and secure place to live.
We have already taken action to ensure that tenants experiencing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19 cannot be evicted.
Everyone’s circumstances will be different but for some this crisis will impact on their ability to pay rent and household bills, which will be extremely worrying. We have called on landlords to be supportive and offer flexibility throughout this time, but recognise that this won’t make any debt incurred go away. There is a lot of support available, and now we want to provide guidance on who to turn to and how to access it.
‘Support available if you are a tenant living in Wales–COVID-19’ will help people to act quickly and put measures in place to prevent housing issues escalating in these challenging weeks and months ahead. The guidance details the types of financial support that people may be able to claim, along with the associated eligibility criteria. It also provides practical advice on who to go to, and what to do if people get into financial difficulty with their rent, or with general living expenses. While this is primarily for tenants, it also provides a useful tool to support organisations who are advising people in Wales. This guidance is to be read alongside the advice that we have already provided to tenants and landlords.
We have, through Rent Smart Wales, Local Authorities and Community Housing Cymru, reached out to all landlords and letting agents reminding them of their responsibilities and providing links to the guidance we have produced. We will continue to do so as the situation changes and our guidance is updated.
My officials will continue to work closely with external stakeholders to understand the needs of an extremely wide and varied group of tenants. Working collaboratively is vital and it is through our work with stakeholder groups, that we are best able to understand the consequences of this crisis, step in where necessary, and support accordingly.
I would like to highlight the excellent support offered by public, private and third sector organisations operating across Wales, and would also like to thank all landlords, managing agents and tenant support organisations for helping our tenants during this crisis.
We are all in this together, and I am extremely grateful for the collaboration across Wales, supporting people to remain in a safe and secure home.