Propertymark says it’s spotted what may be the first sign of a U-turn on one aspect of the controversial Renters Reform Bill.
Under the current proposals, outlined in the Bill when it was published last week, all fixed-term contracts would be effectively banned. Many landlords and letting agents, along with Propertymark itself, have argued that this would disproportionately impact groups who depend on cyclical accommodation, most obviously student renters.
Now an article has appeared in the Daily Telegraph suggesting that Housing Secretary Michael Gove is already considering an amendment to the Bill, which would be expected to allow landlords to guarantee vacant possession for the next cohort of students and to retain their yearly let business model.
A statement from Propertymark says: “A specific clause would then be added to the Bill for privately let student property. A government spokesperson stated they will continue to engage on these measures to ensure things work for both parties, as they feel the vast majority of students move out at the end of the academic year and will not be impacted.”
Timothy Douglas, head of policy and campaigns at Propertymark, adds: “The UK government must understand the ramifications that changing fixed-term tenancies to periodic will have within the student let market. Our member agents continue to express concerns, stating that without the seasonal predictability provided through fixed-term tenancies, the market will be unable to continue to provide a consistent supply of homes at the points of the year where it is needed most and risks reducing housing options for students.
“We will be continuing to scrutinise the reforms and will look to work with the UK government to create practical and sustainable solutions moving forward.”
A House of Commons report earlier this year identified the same problem, and it indicated that abolishing fixed term tenancies could lead to a reduction in housing available to students. A recommendation in that report was to retain fixed-term contracts in the student sector, citing the evidence on not exempting them could push up rents or reduce availability.
The Higher Education Policy Institute has also issued a statement with the same concerns.