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Unwelcome consultation on 3-year tenancies

Louise Hebborn, a partner and specialist in commercial law at the firm Stephensons, explains a proposal by Westminster which could see private landlords turn away from the sector and have an impact on business for letting agents

Amid all the headline-grabbing political manoeuvring over Brexit, a policy proposal, which could have serious ramifications for thousands of private landlords (and those who let or manage properties on their behalf), slipped by relatively unnoticed.

Ministers have outlined plans to introduce a minimum tenancy term of three years in order to give private renters in England ‘more security’. The government suggests that longer agreements would give tenants more stability and allow them to put down roots without the fear of having to move home at 6-12 month intervals.

According to the BBC, 80% of tenants currently have contracts of six or 12 months, yet most renters stay in a property for an average of four years. The proposals would allow tenants to leave earlier than the three year term while exemptions to the rules could apply for the likes of students whose tenancies are dictated by university terms.

The plans – which are subject to a consultation until the end of August – have received a lukewarm response from private landlords and buy-to-let investors who have expressed concerns about how the proposals could further dis-incentivise those looking to invest in buy-to-let property and even those who already own one or more rented properties. Some have declared the plans to be another straw on the back of private landlords and vowed to sell their properties should the government move to introduce legislation to that effect.

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