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New call for four-year tenancies, rent caps and fewer evictions

Another think-tank has come up with reforms which it wants the government to make to the private rental sector - and its chief objective is to introduce four year standard tenancy durations.

The Centre for Social Justice’s housing commission is chaired by Lord Best, who is also leading some government discussions on reforms to the estate and lettings agency industries.

The CSJ says that as part of its proposed four-year standard tenancy, renters would be able to exit the contract with two months’ notice once the initial six months have passed “retaining the private rented sector’s flexibility advantage.”
The CSJ is also calling for the abolition of Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988; it says that instead, landlords should be given a wider range of legitimate grounds to gain possession of their properties during the fixed term, such as if they want to sell up or move in.


The new standard tenancy proposed by the CSJ would end automatically at the end of the four year fixed term; landlords would be able to renew further four-year terms if rents are successfully negotiated with the sitting tenant.
In the report the CSJ also calls for better security for landlords who have been ‘let down’ by the housing justice system, supporting the creation of a specialist Housing Court to deal with housing cases more quickly and effectively.
Under the new system, tenants would be allowed greater flexibility in making cosmetic improvements to their private rented homes, such as hanging pictures and altering the wall colours within ‘reasonable’ agreed parameters.
The CSJ also suggests reversing the raid on private landlord tax incentives introduced by George Osborne in 2015 in order to maintain ‘healthy’ levels of investment in the sector.

In launching the think tank’s proposals, Lord Best says: “The CSJ is right to stress that while the types of households living in the private rented sector have changed profoundly over the last two decades, the rules governing the sector have not kept apace. 
“As the commission found, the prevailing culture of insecurity has harmed both private tenants and landlords alike. The recommendations we advance in this report update the sector so that families are able to put down roots and landlords can feel confident that the system will work for them.”

And CSJ chief executive Andy Cook adds: “I’ve lost track of how many cases we come across at the CSJ of people struggling to address the serious challenges they face – be that an alcohol or drug addiction, a family in crisis, or a child struggling to thrive at school – because insecurity in the private rented sector prevents them from doing so.

“The government should be commended for taking the issue of short-term tenancies seriously. We at the CSJ want to help it get these reforms right so that families can put down roots, tackle the root causes poverty, and build stronger communities.”

The CSJ cites a mother of two in Cheshire who submitted evidence during the commission’s inquiry. She is quoted as saying: 

“We made it clear we were looking for five years plus. We were assured by the agent that the house was suitable for a long-term family rent.
“After I reported urgent safety issues with the electrics, gas fire and shower that we discovered on the day we moved in, the landlady now refuses to have any contact with me.
“We now have to move out at the end of January, just six months after moving in. But there’s nothing available in this area that we can afford at the moment.
“We’ve done nothing wrong, and are exemplary tenants who’ve paid up front and just want a quiet family life.
“Our lives have been turned upside down by this nightmare.”

  • icon

    How about reforming Parliament it's obviously not fit for purpose none of them got a clue about anything.

  • Andrew Hill

    What about 40 year tenancies? Or free rent tenancies? Or tenancy agreements written on gold leaf by law?

    PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    After the abolition of Sec 21 and 4 year tenancies - there will be a proposal that Landlords have to rent out their property Free of charge.

  • Kristjan Byfield

    Actually think that many of the proposals in here are quite fair and well laid out and quite balanced too. My two main concerns would be 'tenants would be allowed greater flexibility in making cosmetic improvements' as this would have to be very tightly framed & legislated to create a clear framework of what is permitted and the terms (e.g. tenants can paint but landlord has to approve colour & landlord can charge for a professional to put right if a bad job is done) and I also think landlords should have a choice for the break to be anything from 6-12 months.

    S l
    • S l
    • 22 March 2019 10:56 AM

    unfortunately majority of tenants looking for rental are not into long term and would only rent 6 months at a time. 1 out of 15 enquiries i get from my advert is from family. none would even consider a year rental. they are out of their mind to think that it is ok to have 2 months notice and keep landlord out of pocket. No wonder the social housing is in such a sorry state. they are run by the very people who are making demands and not sorting out the problems using their own resources instead of dictating how others should use their funds and making others out of pocket so long as it does not affect them financially

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    • 21 March 2019 10:29 AM

    Nah not fair at all.
    Just give LL the right to evict after 14 days of rent default with police assistance if required.
    Retain same AST terms etc.
    No good LL wants to evict unless the property is to be sold or tenant refuses to pay rent
    Very rarely will a LL choose to evict ASB tenants and as most of them would rent default they could be booted out 14 days after first rent default if they DON'T pay arrears.
    You DON'T need any of this CSJ rubbish
    Just a few simple changes to the eviction process would solve most issues.
    Of course no Govt will do this as it would them that have to suffer the £9 billion a year losses that private LL incur.
    CSJ is talking rubbish.
    Any attempt to impose such conditions will just see the PRS shrink even further.
    The CSJ should address the eviction problem and payment of rents etc.
    Currently they are just pussyfooting around not addressing the reasons why LL DON'T want longer AST etc
    Forgot to mention the simple fact that most mortgage lenders will only allow a maximum 1 year AST.
    Of course some lenders don't have this restriction; Nationwide being one of them I think, but lenders do have these restrictions.If the eviction laws were changed as I have suggested and lenders lifted restrictions I would have no problem with longer term tenancies.
    But for this I would obviously require tenant liability for the AST they sign.
    I know of no normal tenant that would wish to do this.
    The only ones who do are the DSS mob who I don't touch with a bargepole.
    If I insisted on 3 year tenancies I wouldn't have any tenants!!!!!!!!

  • Frank Browne

    The case study at the end points out one glaring sign! “We now have to move out at the end of January, just six months after moving in. But there’s nothing available in this area that we can afford at the moment.

    “We’ve done nothing wrong, and are exemplary tenants who’ve paid up front and just want a quiet family life.

    “Our lives have been turned upside down by this nightmare.”
    Not saying this is right but obviously this was a substandard property at a substandard letting price. I personally do not take these sort of properties on as an agent because of these issues. Sometimes things do turn up that were not noticed at the time and are dealt with immediately. I believe that tenants should look for market rent in areas that they can afford AND agents should NOT take on substandard properties to let at reduced rental prices.

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    • 21 March 2019 12:00 PM

    With the new Habitation Regulations will LA become self -policing to not take on these dud properties as they DON'T want the hassle involved.
    So LA become by default quasi council regulators!?
    LA will be only too aware of the new regulations and are probably the best placed to instruct idiot LL what they need to do to make the property lettable.
    No LA will want to take on a dud property in light of the new regulations

  • icon

    I do not agree with the CSJ, except that they recently stated - not reported here I see - tgat Section 24 tax attacks should be rescinded in exchange for longer tenancies. My tenancies last a long time anyway - 11 years plus in at least two cases - so I’m not scared of longer tenancies, but what’s all this ‘4 years then another 4 years’ nonsense? What if a house was only available for 5 or 6 years - are they saying the first 4 year tenancy is fine but you can’t then have 2 years afterwards? Must the house be left empty then?? And what about private negotiation - ‘I’ll give you a grand if you move out this month’ etc - will that be banned or maybe become more prevalent?? Longer tenancies MUST retain intelligent flexibility for the landlord, or you won’t get the house at all.

  • icon

    This is the 5th paragraph of this article above and should be analysed carefully...........'The new standard tenancy proposed by the CSJ would end automatically at the end of the four year fixed term; landlords would be able to renew further four-year terms if rents are successfully negotiated with the SITTING TENANT............'

    Now you have had a bit of a bleat you should all look up the meaning of the words sitting tenant. It's food for thought and the reason we DO NOT want to create a sitting tenant situation or indeed a protected tenancy. I see this protected tenancy rearing it's ugly head again as it did many years ago. The demise of protected tenancies gave rise to the Private Rented Sector. We do not want to make a retrograde step now do we?

    S l
    • S l
    • 22 March 2019 12:26 PM

    well spotted PR

  • icon
    • 22 March 2019 12:28 PM

    Indeed if there is any possibility of sitting tenants remaining that would be the end of the PRS.
    LL would sell up en-masse

  • PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    This CSJ and Shelter Nonsense is really Assured Tenancies in 'Sheep's clothing ( or not much short of ! )
    The ONLY person with Any 'skin in the game' is the Private Landlord.
    Notice periods should be equal,
    If a tenant is to be given a 3 year Tenancy, then they must STAY for 3 years. ( or be liable for the rent - No tenants are going to want to be tied to that, But Landlords are expected to ! )

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    • 22 March 2019 22:56 PM

    LL will refuse to be dictated to.
    They would rather sell up or convert to other types of letting.
    Most LL who became such after 1997 only did so in the knowledge that they could quickly get rid of tenants if they wished.
    Everyone knew about the problems of sitting tenants which is why few were prepared to invest and only rich people could do this prior to the advent of the BTL mortgage.
    LL will not be dictated to as to how they will deploy and utilise their capital.
    Up with it they will NOT put!.
    It does seem that very few understand how the current PRS came about and what it is founded on.
    It is quite simple
    BTL lending based on rental income
    6 month AST
    Eviction possibility within a reasonable period.
    Interfering with any of these will cause extreme detriment to the AST PRS as is occurring in Scotland.
    GR and their ilk seem to imagine that LL will stay being LL no matter how much they are kicked around.
    This is the case for me.
    I'm leaving ASAP.
    I have no desire to remain an AST LL with the way I am being treated.
    I will be glad to see the back of tenants.
    Lodgers will be my new tax free income source.
    Many LL are progressively selling up.
    I DON'T see how this assists tenants.
    I believe very soon we will start to have sealed bids for tenancies after all the best tenants via a TRP have been listed so desperately short of rental properties there will be


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