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There’s been a lot in the media about the benefits to tenants of a longer, standard tenancy and 3 years seems to be the favoured option. ‘It will give tenants more security’, ‘they can put down proper roots’, ‘it will be better for children not to be disrupted’.
I do not disagree with these laudable motives; but I would question how true it is that longer tenancies are necessary to bring these results.
I hope it is co-incidence that these changes are suggested because we now have a large and vocal ‘generation rent’ of tenants who are unable to buy properties at the early age they once did.
When private renting was the domain of the (generally) poorest, a 6-month tenancy was considered adequate, though many people, having originally had a 6-month tenancy, stay far longer to the satisfaction of them, and the landlord.
The average length of tenancy is 4 years; many started as a 6-month and converted to a statutory periodic tenancy to run on. 4 years may be the average, but there are many stay much longer. The fact some move fairly rapidly includes those tenants who only wanted a short-term contract, whilst working on temporary contracts or waiting to move into a purchased property.
I have spent a long time fighting the private landlord’s corner in my small way. I feel a standard, 3-year tenancy is unnecessary for tenants, not generally wanted by them and may encourage landlords to leave the sector. I can only judge from what I hear from landlords, who are saying there is too much legislation, too much protection for tenants and precious little for them.
Many decent landlords have taken a risk on someone, prepared to give them a chance in their property, because they had the assurance that after 6 months, provided correct procedure is followed, the tenant can be evicted (though it will generally take longer than 6 months to get them out).
Will they still take a chance on someone who, on the face of it, is not a desirable tenant?
Speak to the man just out of prison, unknown to the landlord, no references – is he holding out for a 3-year tenancy? It is unlikely – he just wants somewhere but is well aware that he would not be a landlords’ tenant of choice.
Ask the mother who moves her family around frequently. She may well say yes; a longer-term tenancy is what she craves. Then ask the landlord. Her record does not say ‘settled tenant’ to them. Why should they risk giving her a tenancy, to find her leaving without notice?
There will always be some damage, some re-decorating needed when a tenant vacates; longer tenancies should mean less remedial work so may not necessarily be bad news for the landlord, but it could be very bad news for the poorest, the most vulnerable. Or do they not count anymore?
Longer tenancies may work for some tenants, and even some landlords, but not for all.
For advice on buy to let issues – Ask Sharon