Lettings agents for or against the government’s proposals for longer tenancies have only a very short time left to respond to the official consultation on the issue.
In the proposals, the government says some 80 per cent of tenants currently have contracts of six or 12 months, and that many want longer tenancies. Housing Secretary James Brokenshire describes the current six month standard tenancy as being “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.”
Government proposals suggest a default three year tenancy with a six-month break clause, and it hints at possible fiscal incentives for landlords who sign up to the deal.
The deadline for consultation responses is late evening on August 26 - this coming Sunday - and a recent poll on Letting Agent Today suggested that over two thirds of readers believed the government may have already made up its mind anyway.
However, now a leading PropTech chief is urging agents and property professionals to make a last-ditch effort to reply.
Neil Cobbold, chief operating officer of automated rental payment provider PayProp in the UK, says agents’ input could be vital.
"Dealing with new tenancies and renewals on a regular basis means letting agents are well placed to provide feedback on typical tenancy lengths and any potential issues or unintended consequences with longer minimum tenancy agreements" explains Cobbold.
"Agents also speak daily to landlords and tenants so they will be able to provide useful insight into the consumer reaction to these proposals and whether longer tenancies are something landlords and tenants are keen to see introduced."
Cobbold believes that if the new proposals become law they will be accompanied by new rules on notice for leaving a tenancy and notice for regaining a property, which will only be possible if the landlord has 'reasonable' grounds.
There are also plans to limit rent rises to just once per year at a pre-agreed rate.
"Last year, there were similar regulatory changes made in Scotland when the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016 was introduced. It would be beneficial for English stakeholders to find out more about the new Scottish system, how it has changed the market and what mistakes could be avoided" says Cobbold.
You can see the government's full consultation document and details of how to respond here.