In our online poll we asked Moneywise readers: “Should tenants be offered long-term rental contracts?” and the answer was a clear “No”.
The question was prompted by the government’s proposals to introduce mandatory three-year tenancy agreements, with a six-month break clause, to give tenants more security.
Figures show that tenants typically stay in their homes for nearly four years, but 81% of tenancy agreements are assured shorthold tenancies with a fixed minimum term of six or 12 months. Although tenants and landlords can agree to longer terms, most don’t do so.
The government says this leads to tenants feeling insecure, unable to challenge poor property standards for fear of tenancies being terminated, and unable to plan for their future.
Representing the interests of landlords, The National Landlords Association reacted angrily to the proposals, saying they were too “rigid”, but what do Moneywise readers think?
Of the 510 respondents who answered our poll between 3 and 10 July, 26% gave a firm “Yes” and agreed with the statement that “Tenants need more long-term security for their living arrangements and landlords will benefit from longer guaranteed occupancy.”
A further 8% gave the government’s plans qualified support, agreeing with the statement “Yes and no. I think it’s fairer for tenants as it offers more security, but it’s unfair on landlords, who will have less flexibility.”
The majority of respondents did not agree with the new proposals, however, for various reasons: 8% because “it will reduce the flexibility of the rental market for tenants and landlords” and 15% because “three years is too long a commitment for both tenants and landlords”.
Finally, the largest group of respondents, 40%, said “No” because “the government shouldn’t meddle in the market – the length of tenancy should be decided between landlords and tenants.”
So in total, over a third of the respondents (34%) agreed in some measure that mandatory longer tenancy agreements are a good idea. However, almost twice as many (63%) think that the present system, comprising a majority of short-term tenancy agreements, should not be changed.