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Credit: Envato Elements

THE number of homes for affordable private rent in Torfaen could be boosted with incentives so landlords make properties available. 

The “vibrant” property market and high demand for private rental homes is making them unaffordable for most households and even with an increase in the Local Housing Allowance, paid by the UK Government to subsidise rents for some benefit claimants, it is still below current market rates in Torfaen. 

The borough council has also reported a “significant rise in the number of no-fault evictions” in the lead up to the implementation of new Welsh Government legislation, introduced in 2022, intended to offer tenants greater protections, including from short notice and “no-fault” evictions where there has been no breach of tenancy terms. 

Labour cabinet member for housing, David Daniels, has agreed to join the Welsh Government’s private rented sector leasing scheme to provide more options for homeless households and help reduce use of hotel accommodation which is costly for the council. 

If landlords come on board it will increase the number of properties available at the Local Housing Allowance Rate and based on the number of private sector rentals in Torfaen there is a target of 41 properties being leased by the council if the scheme is up and running by March 2027. 

It will be funded for five years and as well as providing funding for the council, through to 2032 to run the scheme, money is available for private landlords to improve their houses. 

They can get a maximum of £5,000 for general upgrades and the same amount again for energy efficiency works, with additional funds to bring empty properties back into use. 

The council has to accept responsibility for any damage and minor maintenance but receives £1,225 per property towards this, but would have to meet any costs above that figure. 

It also has to meet any rent loss but Welsh Government support is capped at £685 for every property while the council can also claw back 10 per cent of rental income towards its management costs but this is capped at £58 per property per month. 

It will receive £36,000 towards staff costs, which it intends to use to employ a further officer to manage the scheme, but has also warned it will have to consider if the scheme, and staff are affordable, after the five year period. 

The council has run its own leasing scheme, and has acknowledged a risk if landlords consider the Welsh Government backed programme as more attractive, but said it had been “hugely successful until recent years” due to landlords losing interest as rental values have increased and it has had to lease properties from housing associations.