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Tenant eviction: do renters really want longer tenancy agreements?

There’s conflicting evidence surrounding the UK’s renting preferences, but flexibility is one of the key things tenants enjoy from their rental homes.

The government is continuing to look into the introduction of longer tenancies for private rented sector (PRS) tenants, with a three-year minimum proposal being discussed in an ongoing consultation.

The idea behind the changes would be to give both tenants and landlords more security and consistency – with renters benefiting from being able to put down roots where they live, and landlords having added financial security with less void periods.
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However, a new study conducted by MakeUrMove has found that in fact only 7.2% of renters said they would like a tenancy agreement lasting three years, with 30% saying they’d prefer a 12-month contract – which is currently the most common – and 20% saying they would like a contract for up to two years.

The reasoning behind the response was mainly down to today’s tenants wanting to benefit from the flexibility of renting, which 31% of people said was a top priority when considering tenancy length. However, at the other end of the spectrum, around half of the tenants in the survey had lived in their current rental property for five years or more, and 29% said they would like a tenancy agreement to be “significantly longer” than three years.

Flexibility is needed in the PRS

Commenting on the findings, Alexandra Morris, managing director of MakeUrMove, said: “Many tenancy agreements are currently set at 12 months with a six months break clause and we’ve found nearly a third of tenants are happy with this length.

“Our findings reinforce that the majority of people want either the flexibility of a shorter rental, or the security of a much, much longer term.”

She added that, while the government argued that increasing minimum tenancy lengths to three years would “build stronger communities”, 87% of tenants in the MakeUrMove survey said they already viewed their current rental property as “home”.

What about tenant evictions?

No-fault evictions, or Section 21 evictions, have also been put under the spotlight recently as some statistics have revealed a rise in “revenge” evictions, where landlords have forced tenants to leave after they asked for repairs to the property, or because the landlords want to put the rent up.

However, the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) believes that banning Section 21 evictions would help neither tenants nor landlords, as landlords need to be protected, too.

RLA policy director David Smith said: “No good landlord will want to evict a tenant unless there is a major issue around rent arrears or anti-social behaviour. That’s why the average length of a tenancy is now four years.

“But where things do go wrong, landlords need to have confidence that they can regain their property. This is why we believe a new process, a dedicated Housing Court, needs to be established to speed things up and why there needs to be a six-month break clause in the proposed three-year tenancy.”

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