Thousands of additional homes for social rent are needed in Wales to address a housing emergency in which people cannot afford to buy a home and are struggling to pay rent, according to a housing charity.

The affordability of homes is high on the political agenda with latest figures showing house prices in Wales increased by 11 per cent during the past year, higher than the UK average of 10.2 per cent.

The Principality Building Society, which collects data on all sales in Wales, says house prices across the country increased by 10.1 per cent in the first quarter of this year.

It says the average cost of a house in Wales is now £212,751, with the average price in Cardiff at £269,826, an increase of 11.2 per cent in line with the Land Registry average increase for Wales.

Jennie Bibbings, head of campaigns for housing charity Shelter Cymru, says it wants to see more council and housing association properties made available across Wales.

“The government needs to build more social housing and that’s social housing, not affordable, but housing that is available for social rent,” she said.

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Shelter says its research of Welsh councils show there are about 67,000 people on housing waiting lists across the country.

At May’s election, Labour promised to build 20,000 homes for social rent in the next five years.

Though there is a perception that only those in the most need are allocated social housing, Bibbings said there is concern that those people are being overlooked and can find themselves stuck in temporary accommodation.

“At the moment most social housing is going to people who aren’t coming through the emergency housing route and the question we are all thinking about is does that need to be increased and do we need to slant (allocations) more towards those people stuck in temporary accommodation?” she said.

“Ideally it should be for everyone and you would have mixed, balanced communities.”

Though the right-to-buy legislation for tenants has been abolished in Wales, Bibbings said it increased the number of homes let in the private rental market and reduced the number available for social rent.

Property experts say private lettings in Cardiff have seen big increases in rents collected by landlords.

Cardiff-based H&M Properties says the average rent achieved for properties let in the capital last year,was £828 per month - an 11 per cent increase on the previous year.

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Flats achieved an average of £775 a month and houses £992 per month, representing 13 and 10 per cent annual increases respectively.

The latest figures for private rents collected by the Welsh Government, which cover 2019, show the average rent for a one-bed flat in Cardiff to be £595 a month, rising to £700 for a two bed, £850 for three-bed properties and £1,200 for four bedrooms.

The average rent for a two-bedroom property in Cardiff was £175 above the Welsh average of £525 based on 2019 figures.

Those compare to average rents ranging from £525 in Swansea to £545 for a two-bedroom property while, in 2019, the average rent for a one-bedroom property in Newport was £425 and £595 for two bedrooms.

Ffion Wyn, who works in arts administration in Cardiff, said she has struggled to find affordable private rental accommodation in the city.

When she and her partner, who is currently unable to work, had to find accommodation at short notice last year they moved to Newport where they were able to rent a two-bed flat for £550 a month.

But due to existing problems with anti-social behaviour in the converted house they again had to move and looked to return to Cardiff.

“All we could get was a one-bedroom flat for £565 a month,” said Ffion.

“You would be looking at least £650 a month for a two bed and if you don’t want to live somewhere that’s mouldy and falling apart, at least £750 a month.

“You still have bills and council tax on top of that, and it’s going on for £800 for some of the nicer places.

“I should be able to afford somewhere half decent but the housing stock in Cardiff is awful unless you are looking at some of the luxury apartments and who can afford that?”

Ffion doubts she will ever be able to afford a home of her own.

“I don’t think I’ll ever be able to buy with prices as they are now and I’ve not got much disposable income at the end of the month due to rent,” she said.

Concerns over the quality and affordability of housing are shared by Dan Edwards, who is the chair of Acorn Cardiff, a tenants and community union.

“Cardiff is more expensive than somewhere like Swansea and it has also got more expensive very quickly and the housing stock is poor quality,” he said.

He said Acorn has won back “thousands of pounds” for members in rental fees and deposits since it formed a year ago.

Cardiff Council has 13,654 properties in its housing stock and, as of June 1 this year, 7,544 applicants on its housing waiting list, which also includes partner housing associations.

That figure shows almost no change from the same date last year, having increased by six. In 2020 the council let 808 council properties, while 672 homes were let by registered social landlords.

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