Property News > British Housing Ministry wants a minimum of three year tenancies

British Housing Ministry wants a minimum of three year tenancies

Landlords in the private rental sector are being consulted regarding plans to introduce a minimum tenancy of three years, prompting a mixed reaction from those potentially affected. In a recent speech in London, James Brokenshire, the Secretary of State for Housing, said that this is part of a wider plan to provide added security for tenants, particularly families. ‘I know this is particularly important for the growing number of families, vulnerable tenants and older people who rent and live with the uncertainty of suddenly being forced to move or fear eviction if they complain about problems with their home,’ he explained.To consultation will run until the end of August, and aims to ensure that tenants renting in the private sector have easier access to longer tenancies. ‘We’re proposing a new longer tenancy model, of a minimum of three years, with a six month break clause to allow tenants and landlords to exit the agreement early if needed,’ Brokenshire said.He added that he will also be considering the case for a specialist Housing Court, as he bids to improve the experience of people using courts and tribunal services to settle property-related legal battles. The Government believes that extended agreements would enable tenants to establish firmer roots in one location, which would be beneficial to all parties. Current figures show that as many as 80% of tenants currently have contracts of 6-12 months. It is also understood that special exemptions could be granted, in the cases of students, for example, who do not require especially long-term tenancy agreements. Some think the minimum should be even longer in some cases. ‘This is an important step forward. Losing a tenancy is the main driver of homelessness and also causes huge instability for renting families, so everyone who rents will be very pleased to see a move towards longer tenancies,’ said Polly Neate, chief executive of housing charity Shelter.‘But if the Government really wants to stand up for renters, they should provide real protection from eviction, and the huge upheaval of having to move home, jobs and schools,’ she added.Get Living, a rental management company in the UK’s growing Build to Rent sector, is backing universal three year tenancies, a service they already offer. ‘Renting shouldn’t be a second rate choice to home buying. With three year tenancies and resident only break clause after six months, residents have the reassurance of long term security while having the flexibility to follow their careers or their thirst for adventure, without being tied in to a home,’ said chief executive officer Neil Young.‘With more than 20,000 Build to Rent homes complete across the UK and almost 100,000 more in the pipeline, our sector is starting to show that, done right, renting can offer much more than it’s given credit for,’ he added.However, Richard Lambert, chief executive officer of the National Landlords Association (NLA) is not convinced that there should be a minimum. ‘NLA research with tenants finds consistently that around 40% of tenants want longer tenancies, but 40% do not. More than 50% consistently say that they are happy with the tenancy length they were offered, and 20% tell us that when they asked for a longer tenancy, they got it,’ he said. ‘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,’ he added.‘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,’ he further explained, adding that setting a minimum of three years would make the sector more rigid than it already is.  

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