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Is the government planning to pull the plug on three-year tenancies?

Reports have emerged this week that the government is planning a U-turn on its proposals to introduce mandatory three-year minimum tenancies in the private rented sector.

This comes not even two weeks after the official consultation period on the measures closed on August 26.

The Sun is reporting that the Treasury is opposing long-term tenancies as it could scare off investment in property development.


The paper's political editor, Tom Newton Dunn, quotes a 'senior government source' as saying: "Hammond and May are both losing their bottle on three-year tenancies, for different but equally pathetic reasons."

"It’s a proper election winner but they’re going to blow it."

It is believed the policy will now be 'watered down' to a voluntary system amid fears it would be defeated in the House of Commons by a small number of rebel Tory MPs.

The proposals for minimum three-year tenancies were unveiled by Housing Secretary James Brokenshire in early July.

At the time, he said: "It is 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." 

"Being able to call your rental property your home is vital to putting down roots and building stronger communities."


The consultation document proposed introducing a minimum three-year tenancy agreement with a six-month break clause for both landlords and tenants.

In the event that both parties were happy after the initial six months, the tenancy would continue for the full term.

The proposals included outlining exemptions for short-term lets and student tenancies, while also explaining how a landlord could recover possession of their property during a fixed-term agreement.

Brokenshire's plans were met with staunch opposition from the majority of the property industry and were roundly criticised by the CLA as well as a number of high-profile agents, including JLL's Lucy Morton and Benham & Reeves Residential Lettings' Marc von Grundherr.

Meanwhile, a study by online letting agent MakeUrMove reveals that only 7% of tenants would prefer a tenancy lasting three years.

Some 30% of renters surveyed by the agency said they want tenancies to last 12 months, with a further 20% wanting a tenancy that lasts no longer than two years.

"Our study suggests three-year minimum tenancies aren’t going to address tenants' key concerns around their rental properties," says Alexandra Morris, managing director of MakeUrMove.

"The government has once again looked at an issue in isolation with no regard for other related issues and proposed regulations." 

"We believe that in order to make the rental market work for everyone, someone needs to take a step back and look at the cumulative effect of all changes to the market."

Poll: Is the Treasury right to think that three-year tenancies could discourage buy-to-let investment?


  • James B

    Clearly the figures show it’s unnecessary
    Only 11% of tenancies are ended by the landlord according to RLA, and not even the majority of these would change as landlord can still sell up and put tenants out in arrears etc
    So why bring a policy in to potentially stall the inevitable for a tiny percentage of tenant and risk thof supply for the vast majority! Hopefully another clueless vote winning policy that this time won’t see the light of day !

  • Peter Hendry

    A cautious step back would be most apposite, especially whilst major changes are already underway within the housing market generally.

    If the private letting market is largely supplied with properties from private investors (which it is), it’s a question of balancing the aspirations of both landlords and tenants there.

    If tenants of private lettings don’t actually want longer term commitments but would mostly prefer flexibility, then already knowing that private landlords don’t want minimum three year tenancies, rather suggests that such a requirement would not help the provision, by private landlords, of more properties available for rent and nor would it help tenants by allowing them the flexibility they need whilst renting in the private sector.

    From this, the private sector appears to only be capable of managing short-term lettings.

    The clear inference from this is that those tenants who wish for added security ought to be provided with property owned and managed by the public sector. This has worked perfectly well in the past so there are substantial reasons directing that all governments (of whatever persuasion), should provide such tenanted property in the future. Housing associations and charities may naturally be involved in supplying these services as well.

    There should of course be a symbiotic working relationship between both private and public sectors providing adequate levels of social housing, each supplying properties to suit the different tenants requirements in the best way they can.

    Surely it can’t be right to try and turn the private sector into an arm of the public sector?


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