New measures in England set to make renting more family friendly
New measures are being introduced in England to encourage family friendly tenancies in the private property rented sector which will also raise standards.
Tenants will be able to request longer tenancies that provide stability for their family, avoid hidden fees when renting a home and demand a fair deal from their landlords and letting agents, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has announced.
He said the government is determined to match support for home ownership with steps to improve the rental market, without strangling the sector with unnecessary rules and red tape.
Currently most rental agreements last between six and 12 months. But the new package of measures aims to ensure sensible reforms are made to the sector, so tenants can get the best deal when they rent a home.
A model tenancy agreement, developed with the sector, will clearly set out the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords, and provide the rental market with an industry benchmark for written tenancy agreements.
Pickles said that the model agreement will ensure families can benefit from longer tenancies, without changing the existing legal framework for the rental market and longer tenancies will give families greater certainty and security, especially for those with children at school, and reduce costs for both tenants and landlords who will not have to pay letting agents to arrange frequent contract renewals.
Tenants will be able to access better information so they know the types of tenancies they can request and a tenants’ charter will ensure all tenants know what to expect from their tenancy and, if something goes wrong, where to go for help.
The charter will include greater transparency about lettings agents’ fees, helping to stop unreasonable practices and unfair charges, and ensuring would be tenants know the full costs before they sign up to any contract.
It will work alongside the new compulsory redress schemes for lettings agents, which will be able to investigate agents that have not been clear about fees and, where a complaint is upheld, require compensation is paid to the tenant.
‘The private rented market is a vital asset to this country, and plays an important role providing flexible accommodation for those who do not want to buy, or are saving up for a deposit. The last thing we want to do is hurt hard working tenants by increasing costs and strangling the sector with red tape. But families deserve stability for their children, and all tenants deserve a good and transparent service from their landlords and lettings agents,’ said Pickles.
‘These proposals will raise the quality and choice of rental accommodation, root out the cowboys and rogue operators in the sector, and give tenants the confidence to request longer fixed term, family friendly tenancies that meet their needs,’ he added.
He also pointed out that the changes will support existing measures to attract new investment into the sector, including the new Private Rented Sector Taskforce, which is promoting the Build to Rent Fund and the guarantees and liaising between the applicants, councils and government.
Also new primary legislation will require all letting and managing agents in England to belong to an approved redress scheme and this will offer a clear route for landlords and tenants to pursue complaints, weed out the cowboys that give agents a bad name, and drive up standards.
The proposed tenants charter is likely to have greater impact among the over 35s, accord to a Savills/YouGov survey of 2,300 tenants.
The new research gives property investors an insight into tenants’ needs and aspirations, finding that 35 to 44 year olds agreed on the need for longer term tenancies while 31% disagreed. In the 45 plus age bracket, 48% agreed on the need for longer tenancies while a much lower 17% disagreed.
However, flexibility was prized among younger renters with 56% of those aged between 18 and 24 years stating that they disagreed with the need for longer tenancies. Only 17% thought longer tenancies are necessary.
There was almost an even split among those aged between 25 and 34 years with 33% agreeing with the statement that longer tenancies were necessary while 39% disagreed.
‘The desire for longer tenancies is stronger among those over the age of 35. This is the age group more likely to prize stability as many may be raising a family and need to stay put for longer. Younger tenants, however, prefer a more flexible arrangement,’ said Susan Emmett, director of residential research at Savills.
‘We don’t believe that new legislation is necessary. It is possible for landlords to offer three year tenancy agreements within the existing legal framework as we have seen in the East Village development in Stratford. Longer tenancy agreements are more likely to appeal to institutional investors with big portfolios rather than individual buy to let landlords,’ she added.
Article courtesy of Property Wire