'We hope this report helps to drive policy change to support tenants in the private rented sector'
Findings from Tyfu Tai Cymru's Private renting and mental health: a way forward paint a clear picture that more needs to be done, says Residential Landlords Association public affairs and policy officer Matthew Norman.
The RLA is concerned that eight per cent of tenants who are trying to access the private rented sector always face discrimination, with 37 per cent experiencing some sort of discrimination. This clearly highlights the need for action from all parties involved.
We support the main recommendations of the research, however stress that (as recommended by this report) organisations like the RLA play a critical role through the process when addressing the issues raised. We would like to highlight that although there are concerns with access to information for landlords, that testimonials in this report show that those who do have access to the resources are able to make minor adjustments to support their tenants.
The RLA already offers members access to telephone support services as part of their membership. With such structures already available, we recommend that funding should be provided for training of staff, where organisations such as the RLA could be positioned to help provide such services for landlords in Wales. With over 60,000 subscribers to our online platforms accessing a wide array of support documents and educational material, organisations like the RLA could further assist online by helping direct members to services available in their local authority.
When considering targeted recommendations, the call for more training to be provided such as e-modules is welcomed by the RLA. However, we note the dissatisfaction by landlords and other bodies in this report for such a module to be the only method assisting them. Although we support that the module should be provided for Rent Smart Wales Re-licensing training, it shouldn’t be compulsory. Instead an electronic questionnaire should be filled by every landlord during the re-licensing process. Not only will this assist to tailor which training modules will suit landlords best for the tenants that rent their properties but also assist in the collection of data for the Supporting People programme. With all training modules/CPD events open to be provided by third party organisations and advertised by Rent Smart Wales.
We are further alarmed that a body which would quite arguably be most recognised by landlords in Wales holds a comparatively low level of regard for landlord support. Only 12 per cent of landlords refer to Rent Smart for support on important issues such as mental health. This highlights the need for more than just training modules and a need for support from other third-party organisations such as the RLA to help support and provide information for landlords and agents - including the governance structures of the Supporting People programme.
We would lastly like to thank the reference to our work with our partners, Tai Pawb, in the award-winning Open Doors Project which aims to help end such discrimination and look forward to continuing to help making renting better for tenants in Wales. We hope this report helps to drive policy change to assist tenants in the private rented sector.