Our response to the Housing (Wales) Bill
Earlier this month we responded to the consultation on the Housing (Wales) Bill. You can read our full response on the Wales Co-operative Centre’s website. We broadly welcome the aims of the Bill, particularly the move to increase the duty on local authorities to prevent homelessness and to ensure security of tenure and surety of finance for fully mutual housing associations. At the Wales Co-operative Centre, our Tackling Homelessness through Financial Inclusion team works to combat homelessness by taking a proactive early intervention approach to mitigate the need for costly crisis intervention, further down the road. Our Co-operative Housing project is also investigating different approaches that could deliver support and housing solutions that are developed in partnership with the people who require them, giving more democratic control.
We support the Bill’s proposal to increase the duty on local authorities to prevent homelessness. Increasing the duty to prevent homelessness from 28 to 56 days before the applicant is likely to become homeless will allow local authorities more time to assist tenants in finding alternative accommodation. Jocelle Lovell, Financial Inclusion project manager said: “Empowering local authorities to start working with tenants at risk of homelessness at an earlier stage is a very welcome move. Over time, we would hope to see more ‘at risk’ tenancies being sustained because of this measure, and subsequently less demand on already stretched homelessness teams to provide crisis intervention.”
We also welcome the proposed registration and licensing scheme for all private rented sector landlords, letting and management agents. If this system takes a similar form to the Landlord Accreditation Wales, we would like to see a section on affordability, financial inclusion and illegal money lending. In light of welfare reforms, particularly Universal Credit, the more aware and prepared tenants and landlords are the higher the likelihood of creating more sustainable tenancies. However, it is not clear how the registration scheme will identify undesirable landlords who operate below standards and who may not be letting to tenants on benefits.
We believe that the Bill will assist the expansion of co-operative housing by improving arrangements for people who wish to join or leave a co-operative. Clause 120 will boost co-operative housing by allowing fully mutual housing co-operatives to grant assured and assured short-hold tenancies, creating more security for tenants. Clause 121 will enable fully mutual associations to obtain a court order in relation to mortgage default.
We would like to see the developments in this Bill consolidated and strengthened, with the development of the proposed Renting Homes Bill. In particular, we would like to see the proposed new forms of ‘co-operative tenancy’ are consolidated.
David Palmer, Co-operative Housing Project manager, said that “it is hard work making and maintaining a home on your own. The co-operative housing measures in the Bill are welcome and will enable people, and organisations, to work together to provide affordable housing, which will be sustainable and will help to reduce the potential of individuals becoming homeless.”