Acorn protesters in the Senedd gallery
Acorn protesters in the Senedd gallery

Protesters calling for rent controls in Wales were ejected from the Senedd after disrupting proceedings from the public gallery.

The four protesters – from the Acorn community union, which campaigns for reforms to private renting – were thrown out by Senedd security staff after disrupting a climate change committee meeting.

Wearing red T-shirts emblazoned with the campaign group’s logo, the protesters called for rent controls as Julie James, Wales’ housing minister, appeared before the committee to give evidence.

The protesters unfurled a banner saying “Rent Controls Now” in English and Welsh.

Security staff were seen sprinting down corridors of the Senedd during the disturbance on Thursday October 26.

Committee chair Llyr Gruffydd suspended the committee hearing while the protestors were asked to leave then swiftly led away.

After being thrown out of the Senedd, one of the protesters, said: “Julie James, Wales can’t wait for action on the spiralling cost of rent. We need rent controls now!”

Acorn protesters with their banner outside the Pierhead Building
Acorn protesters with their banner outside the Pierhead Building

Nora Rhiannon, from Acorn Cardiff, said: “Tenants in Wales feel unheard and unsupported by the Welsh government as rising rents cut more and more into their budgets. Hopefully, our action today has got their attention.

“Acorn has been on the ground preventing rent rises but we need the Welsh Government to take immediate action to get this housing emergency under control.” 

The campaigners pointed out that private rental prices in Wales increased by nearly 7% in the year to September 2023, saying this was the highest of all countries in the UK.

Acorn has started a petition, calling for rent controls in Wales, which has been signed by around 450 people.

It says: “The private rental market is out of control. Landlords are raising rents at the fastest pace since records began, forcing thousands of tenants to cut back on essentials like food, childcare and adequate heating.

“Many tenants are one rent rise away from losing their home and being priced out of their community. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

“Rent control would mean that Welsh tenants would be protected from spiralling rent costs, and would ensure that housing is treated as a basic human need that is affordable to all.”
The Welsh Government is considering introducing a system of rent controls after holding a consultation on fair rents and affordability over the summer.