The Generation Rent activist group has come out against an amendment to the Renters Reform Bill which reversed the threat of open-ended tenancies in the student accommodation sector.
The original wording of the Bill removed fixed term tenancies, forcing student accommodation providers - both individual landlords and larger student accommodation services - to enter into open-ended tenancies, where there was no certainty of when a tenant may leave.
This uncertainty, along with the impending repeal of Section 21, created widespread uncertainty over the availability of properties for incoming student tenants each academic year. These proposed reforms threaten to destabilise the well-established model of student housing.
However, earlier this month the government issued an amendment to the Renters Reform Bill which allowed student tenancies to contain a ground for eviction, enforceable between June and August of every year, to keep student tenancies aligned with academic years.
This will apply to HMOs in which “the tenant was a full-time student, or the landlord reasonably believed that the tenant would become a full-time student during the tenancy”. This can only be used with the intention of letting to another set of students the following year.
Much of the academic and property world welcomed this amendment as - it was thought - an uncontentious and common sense change.
However, now Generation Rent activists have taken an opposing view, writing on the organisation’s website: “We are disappointed by this change, which will embed a two-tier system and will undermine the rights of students who do not conform to traditional term times (eg medical students).
“This goes back on the government’s commitment to students upon the publication of the White Paper, which said ‘It is important that students have the same opportunity to live in a secure home and challenge poor standards as others in the PRS (Private Rented Sector). Therefore, students renting in the general private rental market will be included within the reforms, maintaining consistency.’”
Generation Rent continues: “Reneging upon this lets down millions of student renters who will now not be subject to the security and flexibility enjoyed by other tenants. This change also represents another disappointing government concession to the landlord lobby at the expense of tenants’ rights.”