The government has outlined proposals to create minimum tenancy terms of three years in a move which has been widely supported by build-to-rent (BTR) developers.
Research shows that four out of every five tenants currently have contracts of six or 12 months and ministers said the proposals will offer “greater security for renters”.
A consultation on the minimum tenancy term will run until the end of the August with exemptions likely to include sub-markets such as student accommodation.
Communities Secretary James Brokenshire said it was an important step forward for tenants and added that “being able to call your rental property your home is vital to putting down roots and building stronger communities”.
Alongside the new tenancy proposals, Brokenshire outlined plans for a new £100m Community Housing Fund, to deliver affordable housing tailored to local needs. Through Homes England almost 1,000 new affordable homes will be built on a previously undeveloped site at Burgess Hill, Sussex as the first scheme using the fund.
The proposals have been widely welcomed by BTR developers and the managing director of Moda, Johnny Caddick said they “fully support these moves”.
“We need a customer-centric rental market if people are to grow confidence in the property sector. That has to mean encouraging more rental development through the planning system that is willing to provide better homes with no risk of eviction,” he added.
Fellow BTR developer Get Living has already introduced three-year tenancies as standard at its schemes including East Village, where it completed a conversion of former London 2012 Athletes’ Village.
Chief executive Neil Young said: “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”.
Jean-Marc Vandevivere, chief executive at PLATFORM_ , added: “Government initiatives to help professionalise the rental market are very welcome, it should be noted many build-to-rent landlords are already committed to providing family-friendly tenancies of three to year five years already.
“The key thing is to ensure long-term tenancies also include a degree of flexibility so residents can move out early if need be. One of the main benefits of renting is it gives renters to move between jobs and locations easily, which is why a thriving BTR sector is crucial to boosting productivity as it means workers can move to where the best opportunities are without having to worry about being tied down with a mortgage.”
However, Labour said the plans do not go far enough and rent rises should be capped.
Richard Lambert, chief executive at the National Landlords Association, also took issue with the proposals and said the market had 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,” he added.
“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?”