Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey MP has pledged that the next Labour Government will protect private renters in England from eviction, by introducing new ‘indefinite’ tenancies.
This latest proposal marks a change from Labour’s pledge at the 2017 general election, where it committed to making private tenancies three years by default.
The Party claims the change would revolutionise the private rental market, hailing it as the answer to fixing what Healey described as a “broken housing market”, by offering renters greater security and acting as a brake on rent increases.
Labour has likened the recommendation to the German model of renting, where tenancies are effectively open-ended with a tenant only able to be evicted on tightly defined grounds, for example if they don’t pay the rent or commit criminal behaviour in the property. However, Labour’s approach is not too dissimilar to the Scottish private residential tenancy (PRT), which is also indefinite unless one of the 18 grounds for eviction is met.
John Healey MP said: “People shouldn’t be living in fear of losing their homes. The insecurity of renting is a power imbalance at the heart of our broken housing market, where tenants are afraid to report problems in case they are evicted, and families with children are forced to move at short notice.
“Many landlords provide decent homes that tenants are happy with, but the Government is allowing rogue landlords to take advantage of good tenants. Renters deserve better.”
Last summer, ARLA Propertymark responded to the Governments consultation on ‘Overcoming the Barriers to Longer Tenancies in the Private Rented Sector‘, where they set out their objections to long term tenancies, citing minimal demand from renters and a lack of flexibility. And whilst tenants want to stay in property long term, AELA’s June 2018 Private Rented Sector Report found they do not want to sign long tenancy agreements.
The Labour Party has announced it will consult with landlord and tenant groups on the “proper grounds for termination of a tenancy” ahead of the next General Election. The Party has previously set out additional measures for controls on rents and tougher standards which it says will sit alongside this new proposal.
Here at M & M we watch and we wait, it will be a first if notice is taken of the opinions of those working in the lettings industry. Successive governments on both sides of the political divide fail to understand the rental market, and end up disadvantaging the very people they set out to protect.