Security of tenure

Too many renters in the private sector are worried about their security. Contracts of 6 months to a year are the industry norm and no-fault evictions mean that those outside of a fixed-term agreement face even greater uncertainty about their living situation. As house prices rise, more landlords decide to evict their tenants. 

Whereas in the past renting was seen as a temporary option mainly for young people, before they later bought a home, it has now become a long-term reality for people across the population – from families to pensioners, low-income households to professionals. Tenants need security, to build their lives in one place and without the threat of eviction for no reason. Generation Rent is campaigning to change the culture, making long-term tenancies much more available and allowing those who want it to settle in their communities and plan their futures without fear of sudden upheaval or uncertainty about where they will live next year.

In March 2015 we succeeded - along with Shelter, GMB Young London, and other campaign groups - in persuading Parliament to ban retaliatory evictions in the Deregulation Act.

The Scottish government has reformed private tenancies to end fixed-term agreements - they will only end if the tenant decides or the landlord can meet certain conditions. We want the Westminster government to go even further by forcing landlords who evict blameless tenants to compensate them for the cost of moving. READ MORE

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  • Karen Matcham
    commented 2016-12-21 18:02:38 +0000
    As usual, “investors” namely those who have the capacity to sign their names on a buy to let mortgage form, having geared up on their existing “earnings” from property “investment” are having a hissy fit. The situation whereby they stand there with there mouths open, as the money rains down is the main cause of extortionate property prices. A Landlord should not expect to become rich on the backs of other hard working people. Since when did it become acceptable for those who do very little to contribute to society are allowed to live off other people’s labour. These Landed gentry have for far too long (and they include a large number of MPs) been featherbedded by the conflicted interests of the political establishment. Tony Blair, joined the throng in the early 2000s and we all know where his priorities lie.
    All these bleating landlords keep warning tenants that they should be careful what they wish for – I wish for a secure home (at the age of 56) with a reasonable rent and if property prices fall, I may just be able to afford to buy before I have to retire. I want politicians to help me achieve this. We are not all blessed with good fortune in life and house prices at record levels in relation to earnings, are purely bank deposit accounts for the already rich. Other countries like Holland and Germany get the balance right. Long term investors understand their obligations and however bad their tenants this just goes with the territory.
    Capital gains tax, income tax, security of tenure, properly maintained housing – BRING IT ON!
    And another thing, young people are our future, saddled with debt and high rents, how are they supposed to set up the businesses of the future to sustain this country’s properity, especially when banks see tenants as high risk borrowers and are reluctant to support new business unless backed by existing captial (round and round we go)!!
  • Karen Matcham
    followed this page 2016-12-21 17:44:35 +0000
  • Stephen Seymour
    commented 2015-02-13 14:02:48 +0000
    Proposed longer tenancies for tenancies may in the long run be detrimental for tenants in their ability to move. In the same way house prices rise and when you want to move you seem to have to find 20% more than the house you are currently living in to move sideways, so unless rentals remain static in price without doubt the cost of moving for tenants will be higher. What I haven’t read about is what is proposed about all the new renters, those people growing up and wishing to move out, divorced people who need another home and of course migrating Europeans coming to the UK to live. If all tenants have longer tenancies and remain where do we house the next generation?

    If we tax Landlords an additional 22%, control rents increases, allow bad tenants to remain longer, how is this going to be an attractive proposition to investors in the PRS

    Most tenancies do not require tenants to decorate the property so when the tenancy end, this means that a Landlord loses more rental as he has to spend more time refurbishing the property and more costs. As over 75% of Landlords are not “professional” landlord but rather using this as an alternative investing vehicle, it is likely that many will (a) chose to sell (b) rent it out in a poorer state. How this benefits tenants is hard to see.

    For the younger readers amongst us, before the 1988 Housing Act,one of the main reason that the standard of housing was so poor was that although tenants enjoyed security it mean that whilst the tenant paid the rental the Landlord did nothing but the basic repairs and the tenants accepted that the house was fine because they weren’t going to decorate it or seek improvement from the Landlord. After a period of time the house deteriorated. At least with shorter tenancies, and without doubt since the 1988 Housing Act, the standard of rented accommodation has risen decade by decade. If the house become available for rent every 18 months to 2.5 years the Landlords do redecorate and replace items in the house. This rarely happens when a tenant is living there.

    So be careful what you wish for, it might not be as good as it seems
  • Jackie Bennett
    commented 2014-11-07 13:22:45 +0000
    I agree with Mike about the security issue for tenants. It is not always possible to move easily. I have been evicted with a month old baby and a toddler, not for anything I did but because the landlord wanted to move in to the property and do it up, having rented it to us only 6 months previously with a view to it being our long term home. In other European countries (e.g.. Germany) there is protection for those tenants in such vulnerable positions. The landlord knew I was expecting a baby and we even discussed schools in the area before we moved in. If I had been able to move when given notice I would have done so but I was ill following the birth and the eviction proceedings were very unpleasant and stressful. The compensation payment would have helped us and maybe even made the landlord rethink his plans.
  • Mike B
    commented 2014-07-06 00:17:35 +0100
    As a landlord I can say that what I want is a tenant that stays for a long time, pays the rent and looks after the property. What I also want is the ability to get rid of a tenat that is causing problems (it can currently take 4 to 9 months to go through the legal process to gain posession!).
    It is costly to replace a tenant, so I do whatever I can to keep a good tenant.

    I also agree that there are landlords out there in areas of the country with high tenant demand and low property availability who take every opportunity to incraease rent by issuing new tenancy agreements every 6 months with increased rent, or by having a low quality of accommodation and a steady stream of people who will take it on because there is nothing else available.

    I believe that decent tenants should have more security, particularly those with childeren (for continuity of schooling) and the elderly, but landlords need to be able to sell their property if they need the money and need to be able to get rid of bad tenants with minimal finacial loss (eg for rent arrears, damaging the property or being a nuciance to neighbours).

    There is a mechanism available that gives tenants security of tenure with compensation to the tenant if the landlord needs posession early: this is the ‘Deed of Assurance’ promoted by Property118 which runs alongside an assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement.
    Essentially this says “If the tenant complies with the terms of the agreement and the landlord issues a section 20 notice for posession within an agreed time periood, then the landlord will pay the tenant an agreed amount.”
    The period can be any length that the tenant and landlord agree (e.g. 3 years, 10 years or even 20 years), and the compensation amount is any sum agreed, typically 3 month’s rent.

    With a standard 6-month tenancy that then becomes a Statutory Periodic tenancy:
    a) the tenant has reasonable security for the agreed period (the landlord would not want to lose the compensation amount for no reason);
    b) The tenant has full flexibility to terminate the tenancy at any point after 6 months;
    c) If the landlord needs to sell the property, then the tenant gets a reasonable sum for the inconvenience.
    d) The landlord has a ‘warm feeling’ that he will probably not have the expense of finding a new tenant for at least a year.

    I personally would like to see an approach like this be a legal requirement as it is fair both to tenants and to landlords, possibly with a minimum guarantee period of 3 years EXCEPT when the landlord’s home is being let because of a temporary move elsewhere.
  • Christine Thomas
    commented 2014-05-11 15:34:12 +0100
    I work as letting agent for property investors who have portfolios for rent to tenants.

    When my boyfriend and his parents arrived in the UK in 1976, there was only a market for student renters in the Private Rented Sector. They were unable to access any homes to rent in the Private Rented Sector. Buying or a long wait for a council house home were the only options. It required changes to the law to allow the PRS to grow and include homes for families to rent.

    When there are no tenants there is no cash inflow for the investor. Therefore it is in the investors’ and letting agents’ interests that there are tenants in the properties for as long as possible. The fixed term may be 6 months more or less, or even no fixed term. It provides investors with protection against the bad tenant. The tenant can ask for a fixed term longer than one year but it would be up to mutual agreement. The downside of a longer fixed term for the tenant is that should the tenant’s circumstances change before the end of the tenancy and breaches it, he could be liable for damages till the end of the fixed term. The natural progress of the tenancy is that the tenants would be able to stay for as long as a good landlord/tenant relationships were maintained.

    We believe that it is in the interests of tenants to have a healthy rental market. If the property they are living in is poorly maintained, the tenants should exercise their right and give notice. Take up a tenancy in an acceptable well managed home. The tenants could take their complaint to their local Council and have them assist them by investigating the complaint and making repair/improvement orders where necessary.

    Landlords and agents need and compete for tenants. As agents, we do not want to manage properties whose owners are not willing to make reasonable repairs.

    Tenants have responsibilities such as paying the rent on time and occupying the home in a satisfactory “tenant like “ manner. They sometimes feel affronted when they are reminded that they have responsibilities. We refer them to support agencies such as Shelter, budgeting/debt management charities, the Council. However, we get no support when the tenant continues to behave irresponsibility and are then left with no option but to follow the eviction process.

    In summary, we would say that the tenants have more than adequate protection and compulsory longer fixed term tenancies are not required. A stronger rental market should be encouraged. Tenants and Landlords should be educated and reminded of their responsibilities. If more homes are part of that answer, than government and councils control the supply through control of planning consents for new homes.