Alex Sobel has backed Labour’s pledge to 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, potentially benefitting over 400,000 households in West Yorkshire, 80,000 of which are in Leeds. German tenancies last, on average, 11 years, compared to around 4 years in England.
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. Nationally, 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.
Alex Sobel said: “Constituents in my advice surgeries regularly tell me about the difficulties of uncertain rental agreements. Not only does this causes huge anxiety amongst tenants about losing their homes, but also has the knock on effect of families suffering poorer conditions as damage to the property is less likely to be reported to landlords.”
“It’s about time we got a grip of housing in this country. Reform of the private rented sector is far overdue.”
John Healey MP, Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary, said:
“Private renters 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.”
Notes to editors
There are currently more than 4.5m households – around 11m people – who rent their home from a private landlord in England. This number is double the number of just 14 years ago. Of these households, one in three have dependent children: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/english-housing-survey-2017-to-2018-headline-report
Labour’s previous support for three year tenancies, as set out at the last general election, is detailed here: https://labour.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Housing-Mini-Manifesto.pdf.
More information on security of tenure in Germany is available in this report from the Institute for Public Policy Research: https://www.ippr.org/files/publications/pdf/lessons-from-germany-jan17.pdf. It reports that the average tenancy length in the German private rented sector is 11 years.
According the English Private Landlord Survey 2018, 18% of instances where a tenancy had been terminated in the last two years was the result of a decision of the landlord or their agent: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/english-private-landlord-survey-2018-main-report.
The English Housing Survey reports that the average reported tenancy length of a private rented tenant is around 4 years: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/774820/2017-18_EHS_Headline_Report.pdf