LLETY DROS DRO – CANLLAWIAU GOROESI

Ailddehongli ymddygiad gwrthgymdeithasol

Gan Jonathan Clode – Cydlynydd Prosiect Atal Digartrefedd

Bydd y term ‘ymddygiad gwrthgymdeithasol’ yn gyfarwydd i’r rhan fwyaf o bobl. Mae’n debyg y bydd yn creu darlun o bobl ifanc yn  dychryn cymdogaethau sy’n dawel fel arall, ac agweddau swnllyd, meddw, di-hid sy’n amharu ar bobl ystyriol sy’n parchu’r gyfraith. Ond mater o ganfyddiad yw hyn i gyd, ac un sy’n aml yn cael ei waethygu gan bryderon cymdeithasol y mae’r cyfryngau yn rhy barod o lawer i’w tanio. Gall label ymddygiad gwrthgymdeithasol fod yn stigma sy’n tynnu rhywun i lawr, yn glynu wrth rywun, ac i rai, gall arwain atynt yn cael eu troi allan o’u cartrefi.

Mae ein hadroddiad newydd yn Shelter Cymru, Ailddehongli Ymddygiad Gwrthgymdeithasol: adolygiad o arferion da atal digartrefedd yng Nghymru, yn dadlau ei bod hi’n bryd dechrau cwestiynu’r diffiniadau ymbarél rydyn ni’n eu cymhwyso mor ddifeddwl i ymddygiad gwrthgymdeithasol ac, yn hytrach, ein bod ni’n edrych ar y mater mewn dull llawer mwy amlweddog, sy’n ceisio cydnabod a diwallu anghenion cymorth y rhai a ystyrir yn ‘wrthgymdeithasol’ go iawn.

Yn anffodus mae diwedd pandemig Covid 19 wedi gweld gwaharddebau a chamau meddiant yn dychwelyd ymhlith landlordiaid, preifat a chymdeithasol.

Yn 2022, gwelodd gwaith achos cyfreithiol Shelter Cymru ddeg ar hugain o achosion tai cymdeithasol lle ceisiwyd meddiant am faterion yn ymwneud ag ymddygiad gwrthgymdeithasol. Yn bryderus ddigon, mewn dros hanner yr achosion hyn, roedd gan y tenant neu aelod o’i deulu anghenion cymorth yn ymwneud ag iechyd meddwl, camddefnyddio sylweddau, dioddef trais domestig, yn ogystal â niwroamrywiaeth.

Nid mater tai yn unig yw ymddygiad gwrthgymdeithasol, ond mae’n  amlwg bod gan gymorth tai priodol rôl bwysig i’w chwarae wrth ei atal ac ymateb iddo. Mae landlordiaid cymdeithasol wedi cymryd camau breision i ddarparu cymorth i’w tenantiaid, felly pam mae yna achosion o hyd lle mae pobl yn colli eu cartrefi?

Dros y blynyddoedd diwethaf mae dealltwriaeth o effaith profiadau niweidiol yn ystod plentyndod a mabwysiadu arferion sy’n seiliedig ar ddealltwriaeth o drawma ac ymddygiad adferol wedi dod yn fwy cyffredin; canfu ein hymchwil fod llawer o landlordiaid cymdeithasol yn mabwysiadu’r ffyrdd cyfannol hyn o weithio. Ond mae angen i landlordiaid a darparwyr gwasanaethau gael gwell adnoddau a chanllawiau cenedlaethol sydd wedi’u diweddaru i’w helpu i sicrhau bod arferion da yn cael eu mabwysiadu’n fwy cyson ledled y wlad. Dydy Safon Rheoli Tai Cymru ar gyfer mynd i’r afael ag ymddygiad gwrthgymdeithasol ddim wedi cael ei adolygu ers 2014 a does dim unrhyw rwymedigaeth ar landlordiaid i’w dilyn y tu hwnt i gyngor ynghylch arferion gorau. Rydyn ni’n dilyn yr un egwyddor bron i ddeng mlynedd yn ddiweddarach: llai o orfodaeth, mwy o atal – syniad gwych!

Canfu tystiolaeth o’n gwaith achos fod achosion mwy heriol a chymhleth yn parhau i lithro drwy’r rhwyd. Awgrymodd ein trafodaethau gyda landlordiaid a rhanddeiliaid fod hyn yn wir oherwydd bod arferion yn cael eu harwain gan brosesau, bod ymgysylltu â staff yn amhriodol neu’n annigonol, ac nad yw anghenion cymorth y cyflawnwr honedig yn cael eu nodi.

Yn ogystal â darparu gwasanaethau cymorth sy’n gysylltiedig â thai, mae ad-drefnu swyddogaethau rheoli tai hefyd yn cefnogi rhai landlordiaid cymdeithasol i fabwysiadu dull mwy effeithiol. Mae llai o ffocws ar dimau a swyddogion ymddygiad gwrthgymdeithasol penodol a mwy o bwyslais ar rolau sy’n canolbwyntio mwy ar gymorth ac sydd â llwythi achosion llai, wedi galluogi staff i gefnogi achwynwyr ac adeiladu gwell perthynas rhwng staff a thenantiaid – rhywbeth y mae’r model adferol i gefnogi pobl yn ei roi wrth wraidd ei ideoleg. Mae’r syniad bod angen i chi feithrin perthynas â rhywun os ydych chi’n awyddus i geisio ei helpu bob amser wedi bod yn sail i’r syniad sylfaenol hwnnw o wasanaeth cymorth ystyrlon.

Fodd bynnag, nid yw staff cymorth tai yn weithwyr proffesiynol iechyd meddwl hyfforddedig, ac mae diffyg mynediad amserol at wasanaethau iechyd meddwl yn broblem gynyddol o hyd, o ystyried y gyfran uchel o bobl sydd wedi’u cyhuddo o ymddygiad gwrthgymdeithasol sydd hefyd yn profi problemau iechyd meddwl. Rhaid nodi’n glir y cysylltiad rhwng ymddygiad gwrthgymdeithasol ac iechyd meddwl. Nid yw mwyafrif helaeth y bobl sydd â phroblemau iechyd meddwl yn cyflawni ymddygiad gwrthgymdeithasol; fodd bynnag, ymhlith y bobl sy’n cael eu cyhuddo o ymddygiad gwrthgymdeithasol fe ddaethon ni o hyd i gydberthynas uchel ag angen cymorth iechyd meddwl heb ei ddiwallu. Mae hyn yn golygu bod problemau o ran cael mynediad at wasanaethau iechyd meddwl yn cyfrannu at ddigartrefedd y gellir ei osgoi.

Mae hefyd yn bwysig ein bod yn cydnabod bod ymddygiad gwrthgymdeithasol yn aml yn ymateb straen i amgylcheddau gwenwynig neu brofiadau anodd yn y gorffennol. Mae atal llwyddiannus yn golygu deall amgylchiadau  unigryw pobl a’r ysgogiadau hyn er mwyn eu hatal rhag cyrraedd y pwynt ymateb straen. Mae’r math hwn o waith yn seiliedig ar berthynas, mae’n  canolbwyntio ar yr unigolyn ac yn ddwys o ran cymorth, ond profwyd ei fod yn sicrhau canlyniadau da yn gyson i’r unigolion dan sylw. O safbwynt busnes gall hefyd gynorthwyo landlordiaid drwy leihau costau llys.

Mae gweithio mewn partneriaeth ystyrlon yn allweddol i sicrhau bod gan bobl siawns dda o gynnal eu tenantiaethau, o ddyrannu a chofrestru tenantiaeth, i ddarparu ymyriadau priodol ac amserol os bydd pethau’n dechrau mynd o chwith. Mae yna rai enghreifftiau gwych o wasanaethau cymunedol yn gweithio gyda’i gilydd, ac i lawer ohonynt mae elfennau cyffredin sy’n cyfrannu at eu llwyddiant. Mae hyn yn golygu cymryd yr amser i ddeall yr heriau a’r cyfyngiadau y mae pob gwasanaeth yn eu hwynebu, treulio llai o amser yn symud pobl o un lle i’r llall, a chadw un llygad ar y sefyllfa bresennol a’r llall ar ymhellach i’r dyfodol, er mwyn sicrhau nad yw pobl yn cael eu gadael ar ôl.

Mae’r term ‘ymddygiad gwrthgymdeithasol’ ynddo’i hun yn broblematig. Mae’n derm sy’n rhy hawdd ei roi ar nifer o ymddygiadau, gyda phob un ohonynt yn amrywio’n fawr o ran sut maen nhw’n cyflwyno a’u hachosion gwaelodol. Efallai y byddwn yn cydnabod y potensial ynom ein hunain ar gyfer nodweddion ymddygiad gwrthgymdeithasol, y rhai sy’n aml yn cael eu hanwybyddu oherwydd y ffordd maen nhw’n ymddangos: mae’n benwythnos braf, mae’r haul wedi machlud, rydyn ni’n cwrdd fel criw bach dethol, siawns nad oes gan unrhyw un fan hyn waith yfory, beth am agor y drydedd botel yna o Marlborough sauvignon blanc a dod ag Alexa allan i’r ardd… gwrthgymdeithasol! Meddai pwy?

Mae labelu rhywun fel cyflawnwr ymddygiad gwrthgymdeithasol yn arwain at farnu rhywun ar unwaith a all gael goblygiadau niweidiol mewn perthynas â sut mae’r person hwnnw’n cael ei ystyried, yn enwedig ymhlith y gwasanaethau cymorth. Pe baem efallai’n hepgor y term ‘ymddygiad gwrthgymdeithasol’, hwyrach y gallem wneud asesiad mwy ystyriol o’r materion penodol sy’n cael eu cyflwyno. Gallai hefyd arwain at y math o ymagwedd lle byddai unigolyn yn derbyn cymorth ar sail ei angen ar y pryd, yn hytrach nag ymateb i honiad o ymddygiad.

Mae persbectif yn bwysig, ac i rai pobl gall ddiffinio eu bywydau. Drwy ail-ddehongli ymddygiad gwrthgymdeithasol fel symptom o anghenion cymorth heb ei ddiwallu, gallwn roi gwell llais i denantiaid tai cymdeithasol, llais sy’n aml ddim ond yn cael ei geisio pan fydd rhywbeth wedi mynd o’i le, gan sicrhau ei fod yn cael ei glywed ar adeg sy’n ei rymuso i fod, ac i aros, yn rhan o gymuned, mewn cartref sefydlog gyda mynediad at y cymorth sydd ei angen arno. Drwy wneud hyn, gallwn adeiladu tuag at gymunedau cryfach a mwy cynhwysol ledled Cymru.

Gallwch ddarllen ein hadroddiad ar ymddygiad gwrthgymdeithasol yma

Am ragor o wybodaeth am yr adroddiad hwn neu am ein gwaith ymchwil ehangach i atal digartrefedd yng Nghymru, e-bostiwch [email protected]

Support Need Category

a:7:{s:8:”location”;a:1:{i:0;a:1:{i:0;a:3:{s:5:”param”;s:9:”post_type”;s:8:”operator”;s:2:”==”;s:5:”value”;s:18:”yp_support_service”;}}}s:8:”position”;s:6:”normal”;s:5:”style”;s:7:”default”;s:15:”label_placement”;s:3:”top”;s:21:”instruction_placement”;s:5:”label”;s:14:”hide_on_screen”;s:0:””;s:11:”description”;s:0:””;}

BLOG: Letting fees in Wales: did the Welsh Government go far enough?

 

This week the Senedd passed regulations that mean private renters will be well protected from some types of letting fee – and potentially wide open to being hit by other fees.

In fact the regulations leave tenants in Wales more exposed to these fees than tenants in England.

The issue is ‘default fees’, which tenants are charged by agents and landlords for perceived breaches of tenancy. Default fees have been a huge focus for us throughout our campaigning to get letting fees banned.

The worst type of default fee, that brings us the most casework, is late payment fees. These can easily spiral into the hundreds of pounds and it’s often people on low incomes or who are vulnerable who get hit the hardest.

Thankfully, late payment fees have been capped by the regulations and in future will be charged at a strictly limited rate. The regulations also cap the amount that can be charged for replacing a set of keys, a lock or a security device.

All good so far. However – and this is where the problem lies – the regulations are silent on every other type of default fee. This means that agents and landlords are able to charge an unprescribed sum for any other perceived breach of tenancy.

It leaves agents and landlords free to start adding unrestricted and arbitrary fees into tenancy contracts for any potential breach, as long as it’s not for late payment of rent, lost keys or damaged locks.

This is not lawful in England.

‘Landlords and agents cannot write terms into your tenancy agreement that require a payment as a penalty should you fail to perform an obligation,’ says the UK Government’s guidance to tenants in England. ‘For example, any clause that says “if you fail to do x then you must pay y”, even if the amount is not specified, is likely to be prohibited.’

In England, agents or landlords who want to claim damages for tenancy breaches can do so via the court, so that the claim can be based on evidence. This is currently the case in Wales, but when the regulations come into effect on 28 April 2020 agents can bypass the court as long as they have included such charges in the contract.

It’s worth remembering that from next year in Wales, tenancy contracts will look very different. The Renting Homes (Wales) Act will mean that contracts become a comprehensive, detailed description of rights and responsibilities. It means we could end up with tenants being charged for:

  • Falling into arrears with council tax
  • Falling into arrears with energy bills, or voluntarily self-disconnecting
  • Failing to allow entry to a landlord or agent.

A tenant may be unable to cut the lawn due to a serious health issue; they may be justified in refusing entry to an agent or landlord who is harassing them; they may be understandably trying to manage energy costs by voluntarily self-disconnecting from time to time.

The decision by Welsh Government not to prescribe limits for any other default fee potentially opens up a new area of bad practice for some unscrupulous agents to rip off tenants. Because of limited public funding for this type of work, it’s going to be hard for tenants to dispute arbitrary and potentially unfair default charges.

The Welsh Government has committed to monitor the situation and revisit the regulations if it turns out bad practice is occurring. We will be keeping a close eye on how this is affecting people.

If you come across examples of tenants being charged rip-off fees, please get in touch with the Campaigns Team and let us know.

 

Campaign successess

Letting fee ban: victory for tenants and for our campaign supporters

 

This week the Senedd passed legislation to ban letting agents from charging fees to tenants.

It was a landmark day for our campaign supporters, who worked with us three years ago to build the Letting Go campaign.

Our campaigners carried out a mass mystery shop of agents across Wales – visiting high street premises, interrogating websites, and ringing agents up to gather the evidence that would one day lead to a change in the law.

The resulting report showed excessive, inconsistent and unfair fees being charged on a massive scale. For a long time it was the only evidence available in Wales on this important issue, which has made it so much harder for people to afford homes in the private rented sector.

This legislation is going to make life easier for many thousands of people. Tenants will no longer have to find hundreds of pounds in upfront fees at the start of a tenancy. The security deposit will be capped at six weeks’ rent. Any holding deposit will also be capped at one week’s rent, and fully refundable.

We’ve worked hard to influence the Bill as it passed through the Senedd. Initially we had concerns over the draft provisions for default fees. These are fees charged for ‘defaults’ by the tenant such as late rent or lost keys.

While we didn’t dispute that default fees are sometimes justified, the way that the first version of the Bill was worded would have allowed agents to charge for any perceived breach of the tenancy.

This would have created a huge loophole open to exploitation. But the Welsh Government listened to our concerns and pledged to introduce regulations.

These will define what default fees are and ensure that if tenants are charged unfair default fees, they can get their money back without having to go through an expensive and stressful court process.

So when will the new Act come into force? We still don’t know. England’s equivalent law is coming into force in June. Sadly Welsh tenants will need to wait a bit longer, but the First Minister has pledged to bring it in by September.

It’s frustrating to have to wait, but at the same time, it is so important that we get this right. Shelter Cymru has heard of some unscrupulous agents in Scotland being very ingenious and finding ways around the Scottish ban. By taking our time and getting it right we hopefully won’t be leaving the door open for exploitation of tenants in the future.

It’s good news for tenants in Wales – and it’s great news for housing campaigners. Campaigning works!

Private tenant security is a feminist issue – and here’s why

There are almost a quarter of a million women and girls living in privately rented housing in Wales.

Women face different pressures from men when they’re renting: whether it’s finding a home that’s suitable, finding a landlord who seems trustworthy, or negotiating a tenancy contract that meets the household’s needs.

Women are more likely than men to come to Shelter Cymru for help and advice with their housing situation – especially single mothers, who use our services more than any other type of household.

Last year we carried out a Wales-wide YouGov survey of 334 private tenants* which found some stark differences between the experiences of women and men living in privately rented homes. Our survey found that women private tenants were:

  • More likely to have dependent children – 33% compared to 18% of male tenants
  • More likely to have a monthly rolling contract, putting them at risk of a so-called ‘no fault’ eviction – 46%, compared to 36% of male tenants
  • More likely to have experienced poor conditions in their home in the last year – 61%, compared to 46% of male renters
  • More likely to fear revenge eviction – 10% said they hadn’t asked for repairs in their current home due to fear of eviction, compared to 3% of men.

Our survey also found that 3% of women private tenants had been asked for ‘sex for rent’ at some point. This is in line with our casework experience: we’ve given advice to multiple women who’ve been offered money off their rent in exchange for sexual favours.

The threat of a ‘no fault’ eviction is bad for all tenants, but hits women particularly hard. Insecure tenancies were all well and good in the days when private renters were mainly young professionals. These days one in three privately renting households include children, and one in eight include people aged 65 and over.

Ending ‘no fault’ evictions will help all tenants, women in particular. It’s time to sort this out. We’ve launched a campaign to ask the Welsh Government to end ‘no fault’ evictions and give private tenants the security of knowing that as long as they pay the rent and look after the place, they’ll have a home for as long as they need it.

If you care about this issue, sign our petition and share the campaign with your family and friends. Thank you.

 

* All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 334 Welsh adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 19th July – 23rd August 2017. The survey was carried out online.

Stori Rachel