Acorn Cardiff protestors calling for landlord to act in mouldy property case (Credit: Acorn Cardiff)

‘Landlords are giving homelessness as a Christmas present’

Cardiff renters battle with no-fault evictions, poor housing conditions and soaring rents

RENTERS in the Welsh capital are having a tough time this winter.

The average rent in Wales in February 2023 was £614 per month, according to figures from Rents Officers Wales. And Cardiff has the highest average rent across local authorities in Wales, at £819.

Due to the increase in interest rates, mortgage payments have skyrocketed. And for some smaller landlords, this has led to them selling-up – or jacking up the rents. Some larger investors are setting up more profitable ventures, such as Airbnb short-term stays which are comparable in price to regular hotels and hostels. The number of Airbnb listings in the capital has risen dramatically since 2018.

Renters are facing huge rental increases, and for those looking for somewhere to live, large upfront sums are being demanded.

Jackie Murray, 40, of Grangetown, is one of many in Cardiff on the hunt for a new rental property. Jackie and her husband are currently spending over half of their income every month on “a small, one (technically two) bed flat” that they share with their two-year-old.

Speaking of the difficulties she and her husband have experienced while on the hunt for a home, she said: “It’s soul shattering, to be quite honest, if you’re on a lower income, have a pet or kids, or have any sort of mobility limitations.”

In her current property, Jackie has experienced mould, but previously has dealt with issues such as “an intense animal urine smell… and a flat renovated in such a dodgy way you could pretty much see the loopholes in planning that the landlord had used”.

Despite their struggles, Jackie says they know “lots of others who are in similar or worse circumstances”.

What does Jackie think could be done to improve the Cardiff rental market? She said that we need to “start with removing all the Airbnbs. Put a rental cap. That sort of thing. The current charities available are so overwhelmed and difficult to navigate that even getting the support there is to try and make do is hard to access. Generally anything that makes housing quality safer, and pricing lower.”

In response to questions on what is being done to help those facing difficulties in Cardiff when trying to secure a rental contract, a Welsh Government spokesperson said: “A record level of investment has been made to support our commitment to deliver 20,000 additional homes for rent in the social sector this government term.

“We have recently concluded a Green Paper consultation, which has sought evidence from across Wales regarding adequate housing, rents and issues of affordability. It is our intention to publish a White Paper setting out proposals for fair rents in Summer 2024.”


Interact with the map above to discover the average rent per calendar month where you live (Based on current market data from

Acorn, a UK community union fighting for affordable homes for renters, has discussed the issues faced by people having rents increased by landlords on its website. The union states: “There are currently no laws setting how high rent can increase. There is a process called the First Tier Tribunal that tenants can apply to if they think their landlord has proposed an unreasonable rent increase, but the tribunal bases its decision on comparisons with the local market rent, and has told some tenants to pay over the increase originally proposed by the landlord.

“With no-fault evictions still hanging over tenants, many choose not to pursue this method for fear of being evicted in retaliation.”

However, renters should be reassured that in 2022, the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 was updated to protect from retaliatory eviction. This means that if your landlord issues a no-fault eviction notice just because you have complained that your home is in a poor state of repair, the court will not have to grant possession to the landlord.

Nora Rhiannon, who is the elected communications officer for Acorn Cardiff, described the methods they use to reach their goals in improving tenants’ experiences in rented accommodation. Direct action techniques that the union employ include marches to landlords’ homes, “taking the power” back to renters.

“Renters feel on their own,” said Nora, “and our members feel abandoned by politicians and the government.”

Acorn has campaigned for all renters across Cardiff, but realises that student renters are particularly vulnerable as they are renting for the first time and often don’t know their rights. The union run a stall at the student housing fair, and Nora said this was important as letting agents “scaremonger students into signing contracts early”.

Acorn helped Cathays-based Aubergine Café, run by a team of autistic adults providing affordable plant-based dishes, find a new property after the business was unexpectedly hit with a 50% rent increase from their landlord.

Nora explained that Christmas is a particularly challenging period for renters struggling to make ends meet, and a large number of evictions tend to happen over the winter period. She added: “Landlords are giving homelessness as a Christmas present.”

The Renters Reform Bill, which promises to impose obligations on landlords, does not propose a rent cap, and allows landlords to continue pricing their properties at competitive market rates. But with these restrictions beginning to creep into the sightline for landlords, short-term lets on platforms such as Airbnb are beginning to seem more tempting.

The Bevan Foundation, a Welsh think tank aiming to combat poverty and inequality, published a report in 2022, describing the “attractive proposition to a property owner” of short-term letting via Airbnb. From 2018 to 2022, the number of Airbnb listings in Cardiff had increased by 53%.

The average monthly rent in the capital already stands above the national average, but short-term rental data analyst AirDNA says hosts in Cardiff can expect to generate an average revenue of £1,720 per month from Airbnb listings. The huge disparity in rental income between these long and short-term lets has contributed to demand outstripping Cardiff’s supply of long-term rentals.

Cardiff is experiencing a rental crisis, but Acorn has begun to focus its efforts on lobbying the government to look to homes which stand empty. A Cardiff Council report from March this year documented 1,232 uninhabited properties.

Although many of these properties are unfit for human habitation due to issues including poor ventilation, damp and unreliable water supplies, many properties would be eligible for compulsory purchase orders (CPOs). The Welsh Government is the confirming authority in CPOs, so organisations such as Acorn are pushing to speed up the process of empty homes being acquired by the government to produce good quality social housing.  

If you are struggling with poor rental property conditions or rent increases, or are facing a no-fault eviction, reach out to Acorn Cardiff at, or visit their website at for more information on resources to help you.