First Minister Mark Drakeford has said that new measures to address the second homes crisis in Wales could also be used to improve conditions for renters in the private rental market.

During a press conference to announce new measures to address problems caused in Welsh communities by an overabundance of second homes and short term holiday lets, Mark Drakeford told The National that they should be viewed in the wider context of the current housing crisis in Wales.

“These measures have to be seen in the wider context of the measures that we are taking to make private sector rented properties particularly of a better standard, and to address affordability issues there, too”, he said, responding to a question about how the measures would work alongside legislation like the Renting Homes (Wales) Act, which has yet to be implemented - despite being passed in 2016.

On that delayed legislation, Mr Drakeford said: “The implementation of the Renting Homes (Wales) Act will be the most significant set of changes made in that field during the history of devolution, so yes, everything we’ve said today has to be seen against that wider backcloth”.

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Standing side-by-side with Mark Drakeford, Plaid Cymru’s Adam Price, whose party entered a co-operation agreement with the Labour government in the Senedd at the end of last year, said that “there are no market solutions to the housing crisis.

“Deregulating housing has produced the crisis”, he said. 

A housing white paper is due to be presented in the Senedd in the Autumn and while the detail is yet to be finalised, Mr Price suggested that rent controls could be on the table, saying: “In the cooperation agreement we’ve already flagged up the questions of rent control, of intervening in the private sector.

"I think these are absolutely key questions, even before the current cost of living crisis.

“I think that’s a discussion that we need to have and we will be having in the context of the white paper and these broader questions about how we respond nationally, not just in communities that are facing the crisis of second homes.

“The housing crisis is a national crisis, it presents itself in different ways in different communities, but essentially it’s a connected crisis”.

In response to the measures, Welsh language campaign group Cymdeithas Yr Iaith released a statement which said: "It is good to see the government resisting the pressure of those who have a vested interest and have presented a package of measures to enable Local Authorities to control the number and locations of second homes and holiday accommodation in their area - but wider housing problems need to be tackled.”

The measures to tackle the housing crisis in tourist areas of Wales include a statutory licensing scheme for short term holiday lets, and a three-tier classification system for housing in Wales where local authorities have the power to decide on the numbers permitted of main homes, second homes, and short term holiday lets within geographical areas that they are also free to define.

It was also announced by the first minister that local authorities would be able to set higher rates of land transaction tax, and that property owners would need planning permission to change the use of domestic properties between main homes, second homes, and short term holiday lets.

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