Welsh Government Housing Minister Carl Sargeant was making the headlines earlier this week with the launch of the new Housing Bill for Wales.
My reaction to the announcement is in the following press release -
The UK’s biggest private sector landlord, Burry Port-based Kevin Green, has welcomed the Welsh Government’s proposed new legislation covering housing in Wales.
The Welsh Government has just published its first Housing Bill since it gained full law-making powers in 2011. At the heart of the Bill is the twin aim of tackling the alleged “questionable practices” of some landlords and the blight of empty homes.
Mr Green, 50, said the broad thrust of the Bill would be welcomed by the vast majority of landlords who operated with a social conscience.
“It’s the old adage which says that if you are doing your job properly in the first place, you have nothing to fear,” he said.
Mr Green has properties throughout the UK. Most are in South Wales, but he also has properties as far afield as Scotland and Northern Ireland.
“I know many other major landlords and they work every hard to make sure the accommodation they provide is up to the correct standard. They also apply fair and reasonable rents and you would never accuse them of exploiting their tenants.
“Regrettably, however, there are always a few bad apples.
“I have not been able to study the fine detail of the Bill, but my guess is that it will want to tackle unscrupulous landlords and family homelessness.
Homelessness is an issue close to Mr Green’s heart.
“I was homeless myself in 1984. I know with first-hand experience what it is like. Any measures which reduce homelessness are to be welcomed.”
Welsh Government Housing Minister Carl Sargeant said a decent, affordable home was a vital part of everyone’s life.
The Welsh Government's White Paper - which sets out its intentions for the bill - includes a proposal that would see private landlords having to sign a mandatory register before they could take on tenants
It also described the private rented sector as having “extremes” of good and bad practice.
Although there are good landlords, it said some tenants were put in difficult situations by unscrupulous operators, with many enduring “poor conditions, insecurity and, sometimes, threats of eviction”.
“The latter, combined with the lack of other options, means that many people, often vulnerable people, put up with the questionable practices of some landlords and lettings and management agents,” the White Paper said.
Other measures in the White Paper include a pledge to tackle the blight of empty properties by giving local authorities the power to increase council tax on properties empty for longer than a year.
The Bill is expected to set a goal of ending family homelessness in Wales by the end of the decade.
Landlord and social entrepreneur Mr Green said most landlords would have nothing to fear from a mandatory register.
“Most of us are on ‘the books’ of local authorities and work closely with councils and housing agencies to make sure we apply proper standards, so most respected and caring landlords will have nothing to fear.
“I make sure in my business that we work very closely with homeless charities such as Shelter, Women’s Aid and The Wallich.
“We do care passionately about the welfare of our tenants.
“We have a very widely publicised issue with the Government’s current changes to the benefit system and Universal Credit. But that is a separate issue to this Housing Bill.
“It might be a pity that some extra regulation is needed in the housing market, but the bulk of decent landlords will have nothing to fear from the Bill, as I see it.”