Shelter launches call for changes to private renting

Embargo: 00:01 Friday 21 September
Contact: laura_townshend@shelter.org.uk, 020 7505 2162, or 07850 901 142

The full report and infographics are available from the Shelter press office.


SHELTER LAUNCHES CALL FOR CHANGES TO PRIVATE RENTING 


Shelter is calling for the introduction of a new renting contract to give greater stability to the growing numbers of people who rent their homes from a private landlord.


In a report published today, the housing charity calls for a new kind of tenancy – called the Stable Rental Contract – to become the norm across the rental market in England. The contract would give renters more stability to put down roots, and landlords more certainty of a good return on their investment.


Shelter’s new Stable Rental Contract would:
• Last for five years, giving renters the chance to put down roots
• Increase rents in line with inflation each year, giving landlords predictable incomes and renters predictable outgoings
• Give landlords confidence that they can easily evict genuinely bad tenants
• Allow landlords to end the tenancy if they sell the property
• Give renters flexibility, allowing them to give two months notice to leave.


The report brings together new evidence from renters and landlords, showing the need for a better deal for a generation locked out of home ownership. Over the last fifteen years, the number of people who rent their home from a landlord has almost doubled to 8.5 million people, and nearly a third of renters are families with children. Yet Shelter’s research shows that 35% of renting families worry about their landlord ending their contract before they’re ready to move out, with one describing their experience of renting as ‘walking on eggshells’. One in four renters (28%) don’t think a rented home is a suitable place to bring up children.


Two thirds (66%) say they’d like the option of staying in their home long-term, but the current average stay in a rented home is just twenty months.


The report draws on research by property consultants Jones Lang LaSalle showing that the Stable Rental Contract could increase landlords’ return on their property investments. The study used economic modelling to find that, compared to the irregular way that some landlords currently increase rents on their properties, their returns would actually be increased with longer-term tenancies and predictable rent rises in line with inflation.


The changes could be immediately introduced within the existing legal framework for private renting in England, without the need for new laws. 


Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: “With a generation priced out of home ownership, renting is the only choice for growing numbers of people. But with the possibility of eviction with just two months’ notice, and constant worries about when the next rent rise will hit, the current rental market isn’t giving people – particularly families – the stability they need to put down roots.


“The Stable Rental Contract offers renters the stability of a five year tenancy and gives landlords more confidence in a steady income, all within the existing legal framework. Turning rented houses into homes should be a priority for everyone who cares about the wellbeing of families in this country, and government must now show the political will to make renting better for millions of people desperate for a stable home they can rely on.


“Government must pull out all the stops to encourage landlords and letting agents to offer the Stable Rental Contract. Last month, ministers set out their plans to commit millions of pounds of public money to underwrite investment in building more rented homes. Insisting that these homes are let using the Stable Rental Contract would be a good place to start.”

Jon Neale, director of residential research at Jones Lang LaSalle, said: “Our research demonstrates that it is perfectly feasible for private landlords to offer longer, stable leases. Indeed, their returns may actually be higher if they offer tenants longer terms.

"The market should be able to offer tenants a wider choice of ways in which to structure their tenancy. Just as buyers are offered a range of mortgage products, as the rental sector grows and evolves it could offer its customers a similar level of choice."

"It is important to emphasise that this research does not consider changes to the current regulatory environment. It implies that offering this choice is good business sense for landlords."

Paula Woodward, who rents her home in Nunhead, London with her partner and two children, said: “When we moved in, we put down roots and set up home. Our kids are doing really well at school so we’re reluctant to move, but a rent rise would mean we’d struggle to stay in the area – and we have absolutely no idea when it’s coming.
 
 
“A home of our own seems a pipe dream now: our salaries have risen steadily, but haven’t kept pace with house prices, which are now totally out of reach. The situation is just maddening and very scary. We’re both working hard and saving for the future, but a stable renting contract that we could rely on would make living in the present more bearable.”

Ends//

Notes to editors
The full report, A better deal?: towards more stable private renting, is available from the Shelter press office. All statistics and research are fully referenced in the report.

Shelter commissioned a report, Can landlords’ business plans sustain stable, predictable tenancies? from Jones Lang LaSalle in June 2012.


 

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