Friday 8 March 2019 / 10:33 PM Housing / John Healey

Labour commits to indefinite tenancies for private renters

Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey has pledged that the next Labour Government will protect private renters in England from eviction with new ‘indefinite’ tenancies, based on rules currently in place in Germany.

The change would revolutionise the private rental market. German tenancies last, on average, 11 years, compared to around 4 years in England. The German system is also widely seen to act as a brake on rent increases, given that landlords may use the changeover of tenants as an opportunity to hike rents. Tenants themselves are still be able to choose to leave the property after a period of notice.

In England, according to a survey of landlords conducted by the Government, landlords or their agents make the decision to end almost one in five tenancies (18%). At present, tenants can be evicted without any reason being given, and despite having done nothing wrong. One in three private renters – 1.6m households – have dependent children.

Under the German system, tenancies are effectively open-ended with a tenant only able to be evicted on tightly defined grounds, for example if they don’t pay the rent or commit criminal behaviour in the property.

At the 2017 election, Labour committed to default three year tenancies. Labour will now consult widely with landlord and tenant groups on the proper grounds for termination of a tenancy, ahead of the next general election. The Party has previously set out additional measures for controls on rents and tougher standards which will sit alongside this new proposal.

John Healey MP, Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary, 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.”