Changes could be on the cards for tenants in the private sector in taking out longer leases. New Housing Minister Gavin Barwell says that he supports the concept and that the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has set up a model tenancy agreement for the private rented sector which encourages longer tenancies for those who would like them.
The DCLG is working with the rental sector to promote this agreement and to identify any potential pitfalls. The model, which is voluntary, could help landlords and tenants who want to agree on a tenancy of two years rather than the de facto standard of six to 12 months. The agreement is available for free on the DCLG website which offers guidance on possible clauses to break the agreement if circumstances change or the landlord wishes to sell, for example, and it also covers rent reviews.
With more people renting, particularly in areas such as London and the South East, this would give them greater security than a rolling contract. If they have families, they will feel secure, knowing that their children will not have to move school and allowing them to put down roots. It can also be beneficial to landlords who know that their property is going to be rented out for a longer period with no gaps between one tenant leaving and another moving in.
Even for shorter-term rentals, it could be a good thing to adopt the new agreement because more than one in four tenants feel they were rushed into signing their agreement. A survey for Ocean Finance showed that 27 per cent of tenants felt they were put under pressure while eight per cent said they signed the contract on the day of the property viewing. One in 10 said they had between two or three days between looking at the accommodation and signing while a similar number had a gap of four to seven days.
Younger people felt under more pressure with 46 per cent of tenants aged 18 to 24 saying they felt rushed into signing compared to 17 per cent of over-55s. Tenants in London, where demand is sky high, were most likely to act in haste. Around half of those put under pressure said they wished they had not signed up for various reasons. These included issues with the size of the property, heating, remedial work required or simply that the area was not to their liking.
It is not surprising that these people feel they have to make a decision quickly because demand is outstripping supply in so many areas so they need to act quickly. This is where professional property listings, proptech companies and apps have the upper hand. They can put together a package which shows photographs or videos of the property, both inside and out. Listings can also include links to the local area, showing how close it is to amenities such as public transport, schools, shops, restaurants and medical facilities. This means that would-be tenants can have a virtual tour of the property and the neighbourhood before booking a viewing.