Government unveils proposals to introduce longer tenancies

In recent days, the Government has unveiled proposals to introduce a new minimum residential tenancy term of three years.

The recommendation, which comes in a bid to improve security for residential tenants, follows longstanding calls for the Government to take such action amid concerns that landlords are increasingly evicting tenants at short notice.

In some cases, existing six and 12 month tenancy agreements leave tenants at risk of ‘short notice’ eviction without the landlord being required to give an explanation, it has been warned.

In recent weeks, housing charities such as Shelter have warned that loss of residential tenancy is quickly becoming “the main driver of homelessness,” while the Labour Party has said that rent rises should be capped in order to go further to combat the problem.

On the other hand, landlords have spoken out strongly against the Government’s new proposals for longer tenancies, amid concerns that such reforms will make it immensely difficult for them to deal with problem tenants.

Meanwhile, the National Landlords Association (NLA) has published research indicating that only four in 10 tenants are actually in favour of the idea of longer contracts, and that there is therefore little demand for the Government’s intended move.

Announcing the proposals, which would only affect residential – and not commercial – tenancies, Housing Secretary James 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, bringing in longer tenancies which will bring benefits to tenants and landlords alike.”

In response, Richard Lambert, Chief Executive of the NLA, has 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 NLA’s research ultimately suggests that tenants themselves are somewhat divided on the issue, with 40 per cent in favour of the new proposals and a similar number ‘happy’ with the tenancy lengths they are currently offered.

Carter Lemon Camerons LLP (CLC) solicitors is a City law firm which provides legal services with a personal touch for first-time buyers and experienced landlords alike. Unlike many City practices, we are happy to act in smaller private legal matters, bringing the same care and consideration as we do to large commercial matters. For more information about our residential services, please contact Lisa Ginesi or telephone: 020 7406 1000.