Labour would force private landlords to offer indefinite tenancies

A Labour Government will require private landlords to offer tenancies of indefinite length, similar to the German system, in a drive to give renters more security.

The plan was announced by the Shadow Housing Secretary, John Healey, who said it would protect tenants from arbitrary eviction, where landlords do not have to give a reason. In Germany, landlords are only allowed to evict tenants for reasons such as a failure to pay rent or committing an offence in the property. Meanwhile tenants would still be able to leave the property if they gave a period of notice. The proposal is a change from Labour’s pledge at the 2017 election, when it committed to making private tenancies three years by default. Labour says the indefinite system brings more security for renters, with private tenancies in Germany lasting an average of 11 years, compared to about four in England. This would particularly help the 1.6m households with dependant children in private rented accommodation. The scheme is also intended to reduce the extent of rent increases. Labour says landlords often use changes in tenancy as an opportunity to increase rents.

Deserve better

Healey said: “People shouldn’t be living in fear of losing their homes. The insecurity of renting is a power imbalance at the heart of our broken housing market, where tenants are afraid to report problems in case they are evicted, and families with children are forced to move at short notice. “Many landlords provide decent homes that tenants are happy with, but the Government is allowing rogue landlords to take advantage of good tenants. Renters deserve better.” The plan was welcomed by the housing charity Shelter, which said the current system meant “an alarming number of people are at the mercy of no-fault evictions”. Greg Beales, Shelter’s campaign director, said: “Private rents are already expensive, so when you add short-term contracts into the mix, the situation for renters is pretty tough. Right now a family can be turfed out for no reason at any time, and saddled with not only the cost of moving but the huge burden of uprooting their lives. It doesn’t have to be this way.”

By Patrick Mooney, Editor