In good news, the campaign has had its attention drawn to the Welsh Tenants Federation, which seems to be the closest thing Wales has to an Ombudsman so far. Although the website doesn’t highlight it too much, a woman involved in their work tells me that they happily advocate for tenants and help get their deposits back when landlords are withholding them illegally. They seem to be doing great work, and have been for a long time. It’s a shame they’re not more widely known, and their services better advertised. No one who we’ve spoken to who has had trouble with their letting agents/landlords had heard of the Welsh Tenants Federation.
Locally, in Cardiff, we’ve also seen the Tenant Support Scheme run by Cardiff Council. This, again, seems like fantastic work but hadn’t been heard of by anyone who had problems in Cardiff. This would seemingly be from the fact that they don’t accept self-referrals to their scheme, and people need to be referred by Housing Officers or Social Workers. People at their most vulnerable are targeted, but it feels like this is skirting over the matter that ALL renters are potentially vulnerable, when their property is managed by unreasonable landlords and agents.
We’re lucky to already have services like this, acknowledging that there are problems that often occur in renting when tenants need others to help and step in. It’s concerning that they don’t see well-known or even universally available. And we’re hard-pushed to see where exactly on the Welsh Tenants Federation’s website that it says they offer advocacy services (perhaps they do if you phone and ask for advice).
This isn’t to remotely criticise the amazing people running these, but to highlight them and hope that they may be better advertised, better supported and more universally accessible.