Last night landlords in Cardiff had the opportunity to question some of the candidates standing for re-election in the local elections coming up in May, chaired by our own Director for Wales, Douglas Haig.
Taking the questions from the landlords were Plaid’s Neil McEvoy (Fairwater Cllr), the Lib Dem’s Joseph Carter (Pentryn Cllr) and Gavin Hill-John Cllr and candidate for Pentyrch. Labour candidates were invited, but declined to attend.
With a whole host of issues facing local authorities, it was clear to see that housing is being treated as more than just bricks and mortar for those on the panel. Waste, security, health, standards, planning and homelessness were all on the agenda for landlords.
First to address the crowd was the Liberal Democrat Councillor for Pentwyn Joseph Carter, who set forward his plans should his party take power after May the 4th. Central to the Liberal Democrats address was action on waste management in the City, namely better support for students, landlords and tenants during the Get It Out for Cardiff campaign.
Plaid Cymruâ€™s Neil McEvoy, Councillor for Fairwater and regional AM, focused on accountability and honest politics. â€œThereâ€™s a running theme here, that people just arenâ€™t being listened to by the current [Labour] administrationâ€. There was also talk of â€œopening the booksâ€ on Labour in Cardiff, looking at various land deals that have cost the council money, which could have been put into housing and other areas.
Gavin Hill-John, Conservative Councillor for Pentyrch, possibly had one of the hardest jobs of the evening, given national taxation policies, however he managed to get across his views for housing in Cardiff with the experience of someone with many more years in the Council than he currently holds.
Of particular note was his support for Houses of Multiple Occupation saying they were â€œa much-undervalued resource in Cardiffâ€, highlighting that HMOs have been shown in reports to be vital to addressing issues surrounding homelessness, and can provide excellent resource for young professionals making their way in the city.
As the evening progressed landlords put issues such as waste, HMO licensing, planning permissions, homelessness and Rent Smart Wales to the three politicians.
Although not a local government policy, Rent Smart Wales, which is controlled by Cardiff Council, was a particularly hot topic. With almost 12,000 landlords waiting for licenses to be processed and a number of mishaps along the way, one landlords called the entire scheme â€œa complete omnishamblesâ€.
Joseph Carter commented that â€œRent Smart Wales isnâ€™t smart for tenants, isnâ€™t smart for landlords and isnâ€™t smart for the communityâ€.
The overriding theme of the evening was the lack of consultation and communication; that landlords in Cardiff currently donâ€™t feel listened to on a number of topics. Neil McEvoy commented that â€œwe need to get away from everything being prescriptiveâ€ showing the need to listen to landlords and work with them.
All parties present agreed that any future Cardiff Council needs to work with landlords, not against them, to improve housing in Cardiff.
Unfortunately, not all parties were presentâ€¦