Give Tenants Longer Agreements, Says Consumer Group

A consumer watchdog calls for buy to let landlords give tenants with children more extended rental agreements.

Citizens Advice has disclosed that 40% of families renting with children have less than six months to run on their agreements.

Research by the charity shows that at least a third would like the security of a longer tenancy so they did not have to move home and schools so often.

Citizens Advice says families comprise around four in every ten buy-to-let rentals – about 1.5 million households nationwide.

These renters told researchers:

  • The insecurity of having to move at short notice made planning harder for 60% of families
  • More than a third felt they could not find another suitable home within their rental agreement notice period
  • Nearly half (46%) revealed they would prefer not to have to move so often

The charity also claimed family tenants had complaints about the quality of their homes.

  • 52% had damp or condensation issues
  • 28% had doors or windows that would not lock
  • 20% of homes had faulty electrics

Chief Executive Gillian Guy said: “The challenges of living in the private rented sector can be even more acute for people with children.

“Families are living under a cloud of uncertainty. This can make planning, such as where your child can go to school, a real struggle.

“With home ownership on the decline, the private rented sector needs a major overhaul. While there are signs of progress - such as the ban on letting agent fees – action is needed to improve the security of tenure for private tenants and the quality of private rented homes.”

The government has rejected proposals for mandatory five-year tenancy agreements following consultation with landlords, tenants and other property experts.

The grounds included a lack of interest from landlords and tenants and a view that renters could already agree to longer tenancies if they wished under current rules.

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Types of Tenancy - Assured and Assured Shorthold Tenancies

These types of tenancies are governed by the statutory code set up in the Housing Act 1988, which was amended slightly by the Housing Act 1996. Today's vast majority of tenancies will be assured shorthold tenancies, and both assured and assured shorthold tenancy can charge a market rent for the property.