Government plans three-year tenancies

Credit: Richard Sharrocks via iStock

In a speech delivered yesterday (July 2nd), communities secretary James Brokenshire announced a consultation that is likely to have wide-reaching implications within the property market. He declared that the government is looking into the possibility of a three-year minimum for rental leases.

Mr Brokenshire said: "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." The idea would be for this to protect renters and give them more stability.

While in theory this would prevent exploitative landlord practices, many have warned that it is a poor solution to this problem. Locking landlords and tenants into a minimum of three years has been described as restrictive, while not actually solving issues like rising rents across the UK.

For example, the shadow housing secretary John Healy described Mr Brokenshire's plan as "meaningless", as landlords would still have the ability to raise rents and force tenants out if they do not consent to the price increase.

The National Landlords Association (NLA) also commented on the proposal, as it does not fit with the organisation's own findings. NLA research has consistently found that, while 40 per cent of renters would like longer tenancies, another 40 per cent would not. Furthermore, more than half of renters told the NLA they were happy with the length of tenancy they were offered.

Richard Lambert, CEO of the NLA, 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."

The general criticism from the rental property market seems to be that the government's one-size-fits-all solution is not fit for a market with a lot of variation. As such, this move seems set to be an unpopular one.