Welsh Government policy is causing the tragic loss of urgently needed rural homes

Many rural let residential property owners say they’re considering selling-up. We urge landlords to give us the information we need to make the strongest case to Government. CLA Cymru’s Bethany Turner explains.

In late June we reported how Wales’s housing crisis in the countryside is being made worse because the Welsh Government is driving private residential letting out of business. Countryside communities depend on economical rented homes in the absence of other affordable alternatives.

The Welsh Government’s latest Green Paper, Call for Evidence on securing a path towards Adequate Housing – including Fair Rents and Affordability, 6 June 2023, here seeks views on what it calls “understanding rents, behaviour, affordability and increasing supply and adequacy.” These mean even more constraints on the rights of property owners – severe enough for many to question the viability of continuing to rent and selling-up. The result is that the rentable homes in the countryside continue to become increasingly scarce – a shot on the foot for the Welsh Government’s commitment to ensure the number of affordable homes increases. It’s in nobody’s interest that the responsible community of those who let rural properties continues to be whittled-away by successive regulation.

We’ve reopened our ‘Welsh Housing Survey’ to gain the data we need to produce a powerful response on behalf of rural owners of residential lets. Those who have already completed the survey we urge to update your response so that we can ensure our data is as accurate as possible. This survey can be completed here.

Already our research has shown that 55% of respondents to an ongoing CLA survey intend to sell some of their properties, and 47% intend to change the use class away from the private rented sector. Just from our sample so far, we learned that some 250 properties are likely to be lost from the rentable stock. Our work showed that 59% of the properties reported on in responses are let out at an affordable rent, demonstrating how rural landlords have a socially responsible focus as providers of rural homes.

Owners of rented homes tell us that they’re reluctantly selling-up owing to disadvantageous terms and administrative burdens of the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016, and the proposed Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) which are intensely challenging for many rural, traditionally-built dwellings. The Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) legislation comes from Westminster. Here in Wales, the Welsh Government Minister for Climate Change, Julie James MS has referred to these as “not fit for purpose.”

The Consultation continues until 15th September. We’re already 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, the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) and others. We will update members in due course about the proposals in the Government’s Green Paper, and will consult our CLA Cymru Polisi Cyrmu Committee on our response.

Key contact:

Bethany Turner headshot
Bethany Turner CLA Environment Policy Adviser, London