Government to introduce compulsory three year leases

Michael Lloyd

July 2, 2018

The government will move forward with compulsory three-year contracts for most leases, which would also ban ‘revenge evictions’ whereby landlords have evicted tenants after they complained about their landlords.

Richard Lambert, chief executive at the National Landlords Association (NLA) said he felt misled after consultation and encouragement.

He said: “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.”

Lambert 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.

“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.”

Landlords have greater freedom to evict tenants here than in many coutnries such as the US, Canada and Germany.

Some 80% of renters have contracts of six to 12 months while tenants stay in a home for an average of four years.

Lambert said: “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.”

Housing Minister James Brokenshire, said there will be a public consultation into the rules.

He 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, bringing in longer tenancies which will bring benefits to tenants and landlords alike.”

Labour, however, wanted further changes such as rent controls to stop landlords rising its rents.

John Healey, Shadow Housing Secretary said: “Any fresh help for renters is welcome but this latest promise is meaningless if landlords can still force tenants out by hiking up the rent.”

Polly Neate, chief executive of homeless charity, Shelter, welcomed the rules but also agreed they should go further.

She said: “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.

“But if the government really wants to stand up and provide stability for renters, they can and should go beyond three years to provide real protection from eviction, and the huge upheaval of having to move home, jobs and schools.”

Neil Young, chief executive of build to rent operator Get Living, said his company already offers three-year tenancies.

He added: “As a trailblazer in the build-to-rent sector, we are proud to offer three-year tenancies as standard and wholeheartedly encourage the rest of our sector to do so.

“Renting shouldn’t be a second-rate choice to homebuying. 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.”

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