Essential rural homes held back by Welsh Government

CLA Cymru's Emily Church responds to the launch of a Welsh Government consultation on housing at a time when many rural property owners are selling urgently-needed residential lets
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CLA Cymru has reacted to the launch of a recent Welsh Government Green Paper; Call for Evidence on securing a path towards Adequate Housing – including Fair Rents and Affordability.

Wales’s housing crisis in the countryside is being made worse because the Welsh Government is driving private residential letting out of business.

We’re calling on providers of rural rented property to be aware of the consultation and share with us their views on the future of the Welsh private rented sector. The Welsh Government’s consultation seeks views on understanding rents, behaviour, affordability and increasing supply and adequacy.

It’s in nobody’s interest that the responsible community of those who let rural properties continues to be whittled away by successive regulation

CLA Cymru Policy & Engagement Adviser Emily Church

More changes in residential letting will further reduce urgently needed rentable homes in rural Wales as home-owners think twice about letting properties. The Welsh Government continues to introduce new proposals apparently without taking on board expert feedback from those who let properties. The government is failing to assess the impact of successive change, the intense instability and mistrust it causes.

Countryside communities depend on economical rented homes in the absence of other affordable alternatives. Our 2023 Welsh Housing survey showed that 59.2% of rural residential lets were rented at a rate below market value. The Welsh Government needs a better understanding of what affordable homes are already available in rural Wales. This consultation is asking for better data which the CLA and others can provide.

Changes in residential letting contracts introduced last year have already caused landlords to question the viability of letting properties. People responsible for letting homes have invested considerable resources to accommodate changes already made by the Welsh Government, the likelihood of more to come may tip many over the edge.

Ironically property owners find themselves forced to sell up, with 55% of respondents to our survey intending to sell some properties in the next decade – and these homes are often snapped up as second homes. This is driving working families out of the countryside.

The Welsh Government’s approach contradicts its own commitment to increase the availability of affordable homes

CLA Cymru Policy & Engagement Adviser Emily Church

The Welsh Government has already introduced changes in regulations which dramatically increase notice periods for converted occupation contract holders from sixty days to six months.

This consultation comes at a time when letting of rural, traditionally constructed cottages and homes has become very challenging owing to the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES). These regulations come from Westminster, but a Welsh Government Minister has long acknowledged that the high cost and practical difficulty of reaching the standards is taking vital countryside homes off the rented market. Government has failed to act on this important understanding.

We’re calling on the Welsh Government to undertake a full impact assessment of its housing and letting policies’ impact on rural communities. The Government must take on board the feedback it’s received from ourselves and the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA). We will update members in due course about the proposals in the government’s Green Paper, and will consult our CLA committees on our response.

Key contact:

Emily Church
Emily Thomas Policy & Engagement Adviser, CLA Cymru. (Currently on maternity leave).