Longer Tenancies Consultation – the Response

The government has now published its response to the longer tenancies consultation launched on 2 July 2018 for 8 weeks.

The government’s response to the longer tenancies consultation is inextricably linked to the announcement earlier this week to abolish section 21 notices. Our initial post on the consultation itself can be read here.

The consultation sought views on the barriers to longer tenancies and how these could be overcome. It also proposed a model 3-year tenancy with a discussion around how longer tenancies might work in practice.

The Response to the Consultation

The consultation concludes that the current system of Assured Shorthold Tenancies no longer meets the needs of the current private rental market. On the whole tenants suggested that they would accept longer tenancies where they were offered by landlords. Tenants identified security as the main benefit for accepting longer tenancies.

However, the government accepts that following this consultation there is no widespread support from either landlords or tenants for a 3 year tenancy. Furthermore, there was no consensus amongst tenants on any preferred length of tenancy. Landlords on the other hand prefer the flexibility of short tenancies because removing problem tenants is easier.

Some landlords responded that they are reluctant to offer longer tenancies because of the difficulties they experienced with court possession proceedings. The government’s response to this is to speed-up and simplify the court process. Furthermore, the government also proposes freeing up bailiffs to help them prioritise possession cases which are often delayed due to a lack of resources.

The abolition of section 21 notices was not supported by landlords because they fear facing difficulties when attempting to evict tenants under the Section 8 process. In response the government proposes introducing two further grounds to the section 8 process to remove any difficulty with repossessing a property. The two additional grounds cover landlords wishing to sell or move back into a rental property. These changes are proposed with a view to retaining landlord confidence in the system and ensuring they do not leave the market.

The abolition of section 21 notices will also see an end to ‘no-fault’ evictions and require landlords to give a reason where they seek possession of a property. A consultation on the abolition of section 21 has been announced but we do not expect matters to move swiftly with the added delay caused by Brexit.

Comment

This response to the longer tenancies consultation has naturally been published this week to coincide with the announcement to abolish section 21 notices. However, there is a long way to go before longer tenancies are introduced or section 21 notices are abolished, if at all, and with Brexit a lengthy delay is possible.

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