Government to launch consultation on three-year minimum tenancies

A consultation into making three-year tenancies the mandatory minimum term is due to be launched by the government today (02/07/18).

Leaked across the media during the weekend, the consultation is expected to propose that tenants must be offered a minimum three-year tenancy agreement, though they would have the option to leave beforehand.

In addition, the other measures announced by the government also include:

  • The release of £450 million to speed up the delivery of homes on sites of surplus public sector land and encouraging pace and modern methods of construction
  • The launch of a £100 million Community Housing Fund, to deliver affordable housing tailored to local needs

Delivering a speech this morning, James Brokenshire, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “We’re also bringing real change to making renting more secure. I know this is particularly important to a 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.

“That’s why I’m announcing a consultation today on overcoming the barriers to longer tenancies in the PRS [private rented sector]. We’re proposing a new longer tenancy model with a minimum of three years and six-month break clause to exit early if needed.”

The consultation, which runs until the 26 August, can be accessed here.

However, the planned launch of the consultation has come under scrutiny from several organisations, including the National Landlords Association (NLA).

Richard Lambert, CEO of the NLA questioned whether the change would really be in line with needs of the consumer, suggesting that it is instead more a political move.

He said: “In his speech to the Conservative Party conference last October, Sajid Javid [then minister responsible for housing] announced plans for a consultation on how to encourage longer tenancies. That’s been the tone of the discussion ever since – consultation and encouragement.

“Frankly, right now, I feel we’ve been misled.

“This is supposed to be about meeting the needs of the consumer. 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.

“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?

“It’s like urging someone to update their 1980s brick-style mobile phone, but instead of giving them a smartphone, offering them a Bakelite dial phone plugged into the wall.

“This is a policy which the Conservatives derided when it was put forward by their opponents in the past two General Election campaigns.

“It’s hard not to see this as more of a political move aimed at the renter vote than a genuine effort to improve how the rented market works for all those involved.”

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