Landlords in Wales are being urged to give up their empty second homes for use as affordable housing under a new Welsh government scheme to tackle homelessness.
A £30million fund will allow councils to offer guaranteed rents to landlords in their area, set at local housing allowance rates. Owners will be asked to give up their empty homes for a minimum of five years, but ideally up to 20.
The plan, part of the Ending Homelessness Action Plan, will also make improvements to the energy efficiency and comfort of the houses given up so the landlords will get their homes back in a better state.
“Frankly, we think it’s a scandal that people haven’t got decent homes in a rich country like ours, and were determined to do something about it,” Julie James, the Welsh climate change minister, told the Big Issue. “I think that’s a rather different attitude to the present UK Government I’m afraid.”
Pilot schemes across Wales have had good uptake so far, said James, who added that part of the challenge is to convince landlords to take part – with the aim that homes are eventually returned to landlords in a better state.
“It’s about us helping the landlord bring the property up to standard. So if we have landlords with very poorly insulated properties and so on, we will be helping to bring it up to standard,” said James.