Janey S
Janey S

By Janey S

Renters need a stable home too

Not convinced short-term contracts are unfair on renters?  We think much can be done to improve rental contracts. Please, if you have time, read on to find out why.

A stable home gives you security. It helps you to put down roots and gives you the chance to plan for the future. However, if you’re renting – living on six to 12 month contracts, life is uncertain and unpredictable.

1 in 4 families are now renting privately. If you’re a family renting on a short term contract, you don’t have the opportunity of a secure place to call home: a place where you can settle and not have to worry about where you’ll be in a year’s time – never mind things like where your children might be at school.

That’s why we’re campaigning for Housing Minister Gavin Barwell to make five-year rental contracts an option for renters. If necessary, renters can leave the contract early, but this longer-term contract would give renters the choice to stay in their home for a secure period of time.

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According to the English Housing Survey, renting families are nine times as likely to have moved in the last year than families who own their homes. Stability shouldn’t just be something for home owners.

We already know that 7 in 10 renters want the option of longer contracts.

We already know that renters have much more stability in Europe – in Norway and Germany, renters have the option of permanent tenancies. In Belgium, renters are protected from eviction for nine years. These are just two examples, and there are many more. If other countries can have longer-term rental systems, why can’t we?

We already know that the main reason families become homeless is because their rental contract ends before they can find a new place to live. This means that longer contracts have the ability to reduce homelessness.

We need a fairer deal for renting families.

We recently asked people to share their stories about renting and it was clear how much stress it causes.

Amanda got in touch to explain how she has moved five times in the last nine years and “worries about the debt” caused by the moves. We also heard from Rachel, whose son has just started junior school. She’s on a two-month rolling contract, so if her landlord decides to end the contract and she can’t find a new home within the area, she’ll have to move her son to a different school. She said: “the anxiety it causes is immense”.

The solution to this instability is clear: longer rental contracts.

Join our campaign calling on Housing Minister Gavin Barwell to give renters a fairer deal.

So how would it work?

Renters would have the opportunity to stay in their home for a minimum of five years, but they wouldn’t be locked in. Renters with five year contracts would be able to leave their home at any time by giving two months’ notice. If their family grows or a new job opportunity comes up, they may well want to move. But if they don’t, they can be certain about where they’ll be living for the foreseeable future.

What about landlords?

Five-year tenancies would also give landlords more security, reducing periods of vacancy and lost rent. They would still be able to sell their home if they needed to.

According to Shelter’s recent landlords survey  – about a third of landlords say they like the idea of longer contracts and would try them. Another third are undecided and would like to see them work in practice.

Five year contracts wouldn’t mean that landlords are unable to evict any “bad tenants”. There will still be plenty of reasons that landlords can evict renters – like anti-social behaviour or rent arrears. If a renter breaks the terms of their contract, then the landlord can evict them. However, increasing the length of a rental contract would give security to tenants who can currently be evicted for no reason.

Join the campaign

With house prices rising and social housing hard to come by, private renting is the only option for a growing number of people in England. Renters need a better deal: one that puts them at less risk of homelessness and gives them the security to bring up a family.

It’s impossible to call a place home if you don’t feel settled. Longer rental contracts would give renters the chance to truly have a place they can call home.

Join our campaign calling on Housing Minister Gavin Barwell to make five-year contracts available to renters.

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29 Responses to Renters need a stable home too

  1. William Twigger says:

    Its like most things “”It all depends””
    Some people are “”Letting”” to occupy a space they have no immediate need for but could change at any time.
    Other are in it for the long term as a Business – in which case I would expect them to provide a long term let.
    Both cases depend on the Tenant having honest and acceptable credentials and who are unlikely to present a Reasonable Landlord with the conditions that would result in a Termination Notice.

  2. David Hodges says:

    Whilst I agree that 5 year rental agreements would be nice, there also has to be safeguards built in to allow for “break points” in those agreements, such as being able to give 6 months notice? Or even shorter in the event of a move due to a change of job? What happens in another change of circumstances? Increase in the size of a family? Loss of a job?

  3. Jerry Marshall says:

    Hello, personally, as a landlord, I feel 6 to 12 month contracts are ample. Once the people renting show that they can be trusted then longer contracts can be entered into.

  4. s sibanda says:

    the longer i stay the more l get depressed as they won t mantain the house

  5. Julie Cotgrave says:

    Excellent idea and would bring us in line with the rest of Europe where private renting is the norm and where tenants are protected to a greater extent.

  6. Michael O'Neill says:

    This is important for economic and social stability.

  7. Colin Caldow says:

    It seems to very much depend on the situation. I am comfortable with the relatively short term contract that I have with my landlord.
    For others (both landlord and tenant) it may suit both to have a longer period of time.

  8. William Ellens says:

    For those people who reck rented properties then short time contract may be required to protect not just the land lord but other people who also rent next or by such people. But for those tenants with a proven record of stability then they should have a long term tenancy to give them security and belong in the local community

  9. Geoffrey Wood says:

    As a landlord and someone who believes in fairness, there needs to be a balance between rental protection and landlord protection. The rental company we use charges the landlord every six months for contract renewal, so we have extended this to one year. I would not mind that this be extended to two years but any longer and my financial needs might change and I might need to sell.

  10. Sharon Rose says:

    I think it can be difficult for some private landlords to rent out long term if they want to sell their property or need to remove tenants that don’t treat their homes reasonably.
    Also some landlords/ ladies treat their tenants badly.
    So there needs to be clauses in a legal contract that support tenants but also landlords/ladies.

    I think it would be good if a tenant had a 6mth provisional contract but that the Landlord had to extend this for 1yr after this time if the tenants treated the home reasonably.
    The reasonable criteria would need to be a standard agreed criteria that all landlords/ ladies and tenants had to sign up to.

    I think if all went well after the first 1.5yrs then a 5yr tenancy could be signed up to with the proviso that this could only be terminated if the tenant broke the contract of reasonable behaviour and respect for the property and neighbours. Or if the tenants wanted to leave. Or if the Landlord/ ladies wanted to either renovate to sell or simply sell, or pass onto a family member for inheritance.

    In this case the tenant should be given 9mths notice at least or maybe 1yr.
    So at least there would be security that if you are a good tenant you will have some security. You woukd only have to move if the Lanlord was selling or passing on the property.

    You would have perhaos 9mths – 1yr to find a new property. Depending on what the contract said but I think it should be a genetic time frame that all landlords/ ladies have to agree too. I think it should be no less than 1yr notice for disabled and vunerable people though.

    I think the landlord should legally have to provide proof that they have sold their home or passed it on as an inheritance within a 1-1.5 yrs timeframe or should be libel to compensate the previous tenants a reasonable amount eg: £250 for every month since they had to leave. This would be an incentive for the Landlord to be more scrupulous and held to account. There could be a cap on this eg: up to £3000 to cover the timeframe they needed to sell it by. incase the Landlord genuinely wanted to sell their home but the contacts fell through. All this is just a thought I don’t know if it’s too complex or the best solution. I just think tenants need more security from irresponsible Landlords/ Ladies and vice versa.

  11. Sue Hayward says:

    ITHINK THIS GIVES STABILITY NOT ONLY TO THE RENTER BUT COUNCILS ETC WHO NEED TO PLAN FOR SCHOOLS ETC.

  12. Sally Pycock says:

    I am a private landlord,and it upsets me that we are all seen as the devil,I am fully aware that there are unscrupulous landlords,but I am a decent landlord,charging,an honest rent,that covers my OUTGOINGS,and makes me a small extra income in my retirement,I normally insist on at least 12 months,as this is more cost effective when renting out,but it’s a win win,as in,if they are disrespectful,we can terminate at 12 months,but if they respect my property,they are welcome to stay,and I do month on month,in case they wish to move onion.I fix problems instantly,as this again is win win,as the property remains rentable for future tenants.

  13. Fairfax Luxmoore says:

    If your tenants trash the house over 5 years who repays the damage? Insurance? Deposit or a yearly
    Percentage of the rent? Are landlords allowed a return on investment? If so how much? Fairfax

  14. David Seaton says:

    I am a landlord and operate a tenancy company. I do agree with you that there should be more done for the tenants & I would agree to operate a 5 year agreement system. However I must also stress that i do not tolerate Non Payment or Damage to any of my properties. There needs to be a system that eviction can be made easy for landlords in this situation

  15. john martin says:

    it depends upon the circumstances. during the recent floods I rented my mothers house out to a flood victim whilst sorting out the probate prior to selling it. the couple who rented it only needed for 6 months. making legistration to 5 years would not have helped either of us

  16. Jane Williams says:

    The whole rental market place needs sorting out. It is, at the moment, perpetuating the gap between rich and poor. The property owners are riding rough shod over those who cannot afford to buy. We have no security of tenure after the initial six months so we cannot plan, suffer great insecurity and housing anxiety. But worse is the enormous price of renting. The poor spend far too great a proportion on paying rent to people who are already well off enough enough to own property that they themselves do not live in, often it is local authority housing benefit cheques which go toward making these landlords richer, whilst council funded amenities have their budgets slashed. This is not an argument for councils not to assist those not in paid work – for whatever reason – with housing costs. It is an attack on the sharky nature of those squeezing the least well off and local authorities, they do not see their tenants as people, they are more akin to livestock. Bring back the fair rent register, enforce it, give all tenants the right to a five, ten, twenty year tenancy – and allow them the luxury of treating their home as a home, with the right to have pets and to decorate in whatever way they see fit. We pay the rent, we deserve the right to live comfortably in our homes without the need to be endlessly looking over our shoulders – why should any landlord tell me whether or not I can put up pictures, own pets, or paint my home any colour I choose?It is wrong, I am not a serf.

  17. Me says:

    Although I agree wholeheartedly agree that considerate renters need security, what about those that are excessively noisy and cause problems/distress for the likes of ourselves – we would then have to put up with them for much longer!

    We’ve had two different families both with very young children/toddlers running amok living above us over the last year, both of whom have been extremely noisy, causing us much distress. Being woken up at 6am most mornings isn’t fun! We’ve politely informed the landlord of the problem who isn’t interested as it doesn’t affect him and as long as he’s getting his rent every month that’s all he cares about!

    I don’t think people realise how stressful it is living beneath constant noise/banging and the affect it can have on your mental health and well-being. I don’t see why we should have to put up with this from inconsiderate, noisy neighbours and we now spend most of our weekends out unfortunately just so we don’t have to listen to it!!

  18. Andy says:

    Private renting CAN be unfair, it is all up to the honesty and integrity of the landlord
    and even then those renting can take advantage.
    Any contract needs to be fair & reasonable and agreed by both parties.

  19. Jenny lock says:

    I strongly agree with longer term contracts. I myself have had to move twice in the last 12 months. I am a pensioner and this has cost me all my savings

  20. jude wright says:

    I understand what you are trying to say about longer rental contracts BUT it is nice to have the choice after 6/12 months to move on IF like i did you have noisy/annoying neighbors! And on the other side of the coin giving a family a contract for 5 years may be okay if they are considerate and pleasant but unfortunately many of those with kids ( i am not one) are not and it can be upsetting and stressful for their neighbours! I think the choice i am currently offered is fine 6/12 months as I am a model tenant and look after my property and dont cause any issues also SO much can change in 5 years!

  21. Joanna Rowling says:

    I have just become a private landlord for the first time so I have no experience yet. My first tenants are a couple with a young family who expect to stay for a long time. They are delightful people and I feel I have been really lucky to find them. What they have from me is a fabulous house, renovated to a very high standard with a big garden for the children to play in. My only doubt is whether my husband and I might need that house one day. It has a downstairs shower room as well as an upstairs bathroom which would be perfect if either of us were to become disabled. We are both over 65. In an ideal world, I’m sure my tenants would be happy to swap with us but you can’t put that kind of thing into legislation!

  22. John G says:

    Landlords and tenants may agree a longer term contract than the standard 6mth ASTA anyway. Why demand expensive legislation to fix something that isn’t broken? Yours confused. John G.

  23. Johanna says:

    I think it would discourage a lot of non-professional landlords from staying in the market, reducing choice and availability for renters overall.

  24. D A Luckraft says:

    I agree with a great deal of what you say about the advantages of longer term tenancies for both tenants and landlords. However if you make it a legal right for a tenant to have a five year tenancy many potential landlords will not rent their properties will be empty and someone will be homeless.

  25. Colm Doherty says:

    The vast majority of landords want long lets and in that respect a 5 year tenancy agreement would be a good option, but it would be necessary to protect smaller landords from abuse by the tenant and/or local authority, (if paid by HB).

    It would bankrupt small landords, providing valuable housing needs for many tenants if there was no protection to get a tenant out if the rent wasn’t paid by the tenant or the local council did it’s usual trick of just stopping the rent leaving the landlord with thousands of pounds in lost rent and costs.

    So many landlords now refuse to accept HB payments after the actions of many local councils, which is a real shame for honest hard working people and families on lower incomes.

    In short, a 5 year tenancy would be a good thing provided there are safeguards in place to protect the landlord from unscrupulous tenants or local councils.

    Colm Doherty

  26. Valerie Taylor says:

    I rent out a flat and have an agreement that 6 months notice to vacate needs to be given either by my tenant or myself, this gives my tenant a reasonable time to find alternative accommodation. My present tenant has been living in the flat for 15 years. If any unforeseen circumstance necessitates my terminating the tenancy then 6 months seems a reasonable time to me.

  27. june says:

    i think shoet term is a very goood thing because if a tenent is not a good tenent then they can be removed,i think it will make the tenent think before they do anythin to upset others

  28. Peter Furmage says:

    Whilst I abhore unscrupuless Landlords, I, as one myself, also need to be protected, I consider myself to be a very good Landlord, any problems my Tenant has concernig the property I have tried to resolve for them as quickly as possible, I have only incresased the rent twice in six years by less than inflation, however on many occassions she has been late with the rent by 2 months, however the easier you are it seems the more they take advantage, so now after she’s 3 months of being late with the rent, enough is is enough, so I am now in the process of having to have her removed which is very costly to me and stressfull, but the law it seems is much more bias to the Tenant, so by having a shorter lease it would of been easier for me. A Landlord only wants a few things from his Tenant, to look after the property, be good to the people they live by, and pay the rent on time and if these rules are adhered too! short lease or not short lease or not its unlikely the Landlord would evict them.

  29. A Beck says:

    I am not a renter but they need to start with a short lease in order that they have a good tenent. Then a longer lease can be given. Unfortunetly bad tenents have brought about renters being careful.