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Housing secretary calls for tenants to be given 3-year tenancies

2-minute read

Mollie Millman

20 July 2018

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Tenants are to be given longer-term tenancies under proposals announced by ministers this month.

The government has vowed to take action to curb so-called ‘revenge evictions’ against tenants who complain about the state of their homes.

Housing secretary James Brokenshire wants to introduce minimum tenancies of three years, with a six-month break clause.

He argues that the break clause that would allow tenants and landlords to exit the agreement if needed.

Current system ‘deeply unfair’ to tenants, says minister

Mr Brokenshire said: ‘It is deeply unfair when renters are forced to uproot their lives or find new schools for their children at short notice due to the terms of their rental contract.

"Being able to call your rental property your home is vital to putting down roots and building stronger communities. That's why I am determined to act."

Under the proposed reforms, tenants would be able to leave before the end of the minimum term, but they would have greater protection if they wanted to stay for an extended period.

Benefits for landlords

Officials have emphasised that the reforms would also benefit landlords as longer tenancies would help them avoid costly periods searching for tenants.

Void periods can be incredibly expensive for landlords – and they’re not uncommon. Research earlier this year found that over a third of landlords experienced void periods over the past twelve months, with those in certain areas even more at risk.

However, some landlords feel the inflexibility of longer-term tenancies may not meet their changing needs.

A public consultation on the three-year tenancy model will end on August 26.

Do tenants want longer tenancies?

Richard Lambert, chief executive of the National Landlords Association, said: “This is supposed to be about meeting the needs of consumers. NLA research with tenants finds consistently that around 40 per cent of tenants want longer tenancies, but 40 per cent do not.

“More than 50 per cent consistently say that they are happy with the tenancy length they were offered, and 20 per cent tell us that when they asked for a longer tenancy, they got it.”

Should there be a private rented sector overhaul?

Industry figures described the potential move as ‘misleading’, saying a total overhaul of the private rented sector is required.

Mr Lambert added added: "We would accept that the flexibility of the current Assured Shorthold Tenancy isn't used as effectively as it could be, and that we should be looking to find ways to ensure that tenants are offered the kind of tenancies they need at the time they need them.

“That means thinking about how to modernise a model devised 30 years ago, to take account of the changes in the people who are renting and the way they live their lives. How will that be achieved by moving to a more rigid system, more reminiscent of the regulated model the current system replaced?”

Separately, ministers said they would also be launching a call for evidence in the autumn to better understand and improve the experience of people using courts and tribunal services in property cases. Mr Brokenshire said he may then consider introducing a specialist Housing Court.

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