Labour shuns Plaid Cymru bid for rent freeze amid rising costs

Housing Minister Julie James says rent freezes could have 'unintended consequences'

Labour in Wales have voted against freezing rent costs amid a supply-and-demand crisis in the private rental sector.

Plaid Cymru had called for rent to be frozen and evictions banned in a bid to halt people becoming homeless over winter as a result of rapidly rising rents.

Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, introduced a host of emergency legislation last month, including a temporary freeze on rents and evictions.

But Labour's housing minister, Julie James MS, said rent freezes would have "unintended consequences" and that Scotland's move has seen landlords leaving the market in rising numbers.

She told ITV's Sharp End: "If you have to freeze a rent and you are on a buy-to-let mortgage and your costs are going up as a landlord then you are not going to be able to cover your costs - why would you stay in the market?

"Especially in rising inflation, where if you put your money in the bank, you might get a decent return on it - which hasn't been the case for some years.

"We have to be really careful here that we balance the rights of tenants and the rights of landlords and we keep up a supply of housing so we can keep people housed."

The announcement from the Scottish Government to freeze rents and ban evictions came on 6 September, and the Scottish measures are expected to remain in place until the end of March 2023.

Mabon ap Gwynfor MS, Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson for housing and planning, urged Labour to "be brave" and follow Scotland's lead in implementing the freeze.

After the Senedd debate on October 12, he said: "Labour joined the Tories to vote down a motion to prevent homelessness and protect the most vulnerable.

"The choice was to take action or to do nothing. They chose to do nothing. Plaid Cymru will continue to present solutions to ensure that people have a roof above their heads."