Don't deter temporary accommodation providers

Propertymark has supported the Welsh Government’s proposals to exempt hotels and bed and breakfast accommodation used for local authority homelessness purposes from occupational contracts as part of the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016.

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However, we raised caution that if it was incumbent on such accommodation providers to issue contracts and be compliant with the 2016 Act, then a great many bed and breakfast providers and hotels would be disincentivised to provide temporary accommodation for vulnerable people at risk of homelessness.

The lack of permanent accommodation

With the demand for social housing far outstripping supply and private landlords currently having little incentive to expand their investments, over 33,600 people in Wales find themselves in temporary accommodation. Just under one-third of these people are living in temporary accommodations such as hotels and bed and breakfast accommodations.

In addition to the concerning number of people living in such accommodation, many people are having to live in bed and breakfasts for considerably longer than their intended stay due to the lack of permanent alternatives.

If bed and breakfast providers were subject to the occupational contracts from the 2016 Act, then they may have to offer the people using their accommodation the same level of protection that contract holders enjoy in both the social and private rented sectors. This includes security of tenure and succession rights which would be completely inappropriate. The likelihood would be that most hoteliers and bed and breakfast owners would turn their back on providing this support and further deepen the housing crisis.

We also raised concern that if the 2016 Act is not amended then this could impact other vulnerable groups such as asylum seekers and refugees.

Improving success in temporary accommodation

We also highlighted that the Welsh Government should investigate why some people are reluctant to access temporary accommodation even when they are in crisis. In addition, what could benefit those accessing this form of accommodation, could be the greater provision of accommodation that is accepting of pets and wider support to service users’ complex needs such as supporting mental health needs, accessing work and benefits as well as other health needs.

Boosting supply

Ultimately, however, the Welsh Government needs to ensure that temporary accommodation is exactly that, a temporary measure until more permanent accommodation is provided. This will only be achieved when the supply is increased of both social and privately rented accommodation.

Working with private landlords and their agents is key as part of the solution to tackling homelessness. More incentives need to be offered to landlords to boost supply. The Welsh Government should consider exempting new long-term rental properties from the 4% Land Transaction Tax (LTT) levy on additional homes. They should also consider wider access to grants and interest-free loans available for private landlords to bring empty properties back into use.

Download the full consultation response