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Decision looming for longer minimum tenancies?

Tuesday 10 September 2019

Housing Minister, Esther McVey gave a statement that alluded to the Government deciding as soon as next month on whether to introduce a longer minimum period as part of reforms to Assured Shorthand Tenancy (AST) regime.

As part of the Overcoming the Barriers to Longer Tenancies consultation in August 2018, ARLA Propertymark responded with views such as there not being any appetite from tenants for landlords to provide longer initial tenancies. We highlighted that the flexible tenancies enjoyed by the AST regime, and rent prices driven by market forces have led to the success of the private rented sector across the UK. Despite this, landlords and agents want long, well maintained tenancies as they are the most efficient way of generating rented income for landlords and fees for agents but we also believe that the current regime provides for this.

In July 2019, the Government opened its A new deal for renting: resetting the balance of rights and responsibilities between landlords and tenants consultation which seeks views on the reform of AST which is due to close on 12 October. This includes the proposal to abolish Section 21 eviction notices, and therefore, the AST regime as without Section 21ASTs will be indistinguishable from assured tenancies.

The consultation also asks letting agents, tenants and landlords to comment once more on whether a minimum tenancy length should be defined in statute after the previous consultation was deemed inconclusive.

Esther McVey gave a written parliamentary reply on health and well-being for renters:

“Earlier this year, the Government announced its commitment to improve security for renters, and intends to introduce a new, fairer deal for both tenants and landlords. Our consultation on Overcoming the barriers to longer tenancies sought views on the potential benefits of longer tenancies in the private rented sector. A number of people responded that increased security would improve tenants’ mental health and well-being. In particular, respondents mentioned that fewer house moves could help tenants have better access to local amenities, such as schools and GP clinics, and feel more integrated into their communities.

“Earlier this year, the government announced its commitment to improve security for renters, and intends to introduce a new, fairer deal for both tenants and landlords. As part of this new deal, we will put an end to ‘no-fault’ evictions by repealing section 21 of the Housing Act 1988. Under the new framework, a tenant cannot be evicted from their home without good reason, providing tenants with more stability, and enabling them to put down roots and plan for the future.

“On the 21st July we launched a 12-week consultation on the details of our proposals. The government will collaborate with and listen to tenants, landlords and others in the sector to develop a more effective system that works for everybody.”

Overcoming the Barriers to Longer Tenancies consultation response