Longer tenancies? Sounds like bliss to most landlords. Most of use love the thought of long-term tenants, and no void – don’t we? This is except when we have no choice in the matter.
This is what a lot of landlords are getting their ‘knickers in a twist’ about, after Eric Pickles, the Minister for CLG, announcement on Tuesday. His department has just unveiled a document entitled ‘Improving the rented housing sector’, which has now been dubbed the Tenant’s Charter.
What’s all the fuss about?
The Tenant’s Charter has hit the news because of it’s suggestion that tenants will have the option of extending the length of their tenancy, therefore potentially ending the landlords right to obtain their rental property back at the end of a Assured Shorthold Fixed Term tenancy.
The suggestion by Pickles is that tenants will be able to increase their tenancy length to up to 5 years. But hold on a second. Contrary to these eye catching headlines is this what Pickles is really saying?
What’s does the ‘tenants’ charter’ really mean?
The Guardian and Independent have both tried to seize the headlines by interpreting Pickles statement as more rights for tenants at the expense of landlords. They are pronouncing the rights of the tenant over the landlord to extend their tenancy.
Unless I’m misreading the release, I read things very differently. The document ‘Improving the rented housing sector’ states “tenants will be able to REQUEST longer tenancies”. There is nothing new in this. Currently tenants, and landlords can extend their tenancy by agreement and a landlord and tenant can agree a tenancy of up to 3 years without signing the tenancy agreement as a Deed. Longer tenancies do however require the signature to be witnessed. So what is the tenant’s charter really about?
What is the tenants’ charter about?
The Tenant’s Charter is a typically clever piece of political posturing. Nimbly balancing the desire of the Tories to grab the attention of the increasing tenant classes by appearing to be for them whilst not alienating their core voters.
It talks loosely about giving tenants the opportunity for longer-term tenancies on request (a real headline grabber). However, what it doesn’t do is propose changing the current legal framework set out in the Housing Act.
In essence, the ‘tenants’ charter’ is an amalgamation of current and recent initiatives, brought together in one place.
The Tenant’s Charter as far as can see is all about sending out a message that the Tory / Coalition are on the side of tenants, but equally for landlords. Clever heh? There is nothing really new in the ‘Improving the rented housing sector’, other than one rather sensible proposal to give tenants, and I hope landlords; the rights of redress should they have a complaint about letting agent fees, which I believe should help prevent some cowboys in the letting agent ripping off unsuspecting tenants and landlords with their obscurely written contracts. Though the proposal appears to stop short of requiring all letting agents to be regulated despite the fact that the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 gives them the power to do this.
My thoughts about the ‘tenants’ charter’
If you read ‘Improving the rented housing sector’ carefully you will notice that there is not much that’s really new. However, it has done what the politicians intended – grabbed the headlines. My advice is for landlords is not to get themselves ‘in a Pickle’ just yet.