Age UK London has welcomed news of the government’s new rent commitment, which will see the implementation of a new three-year tenancies model. Communities Secretary James Brokenshire is backing calls to make three-year terms mandatory in a move that will improve security of tenure for private renters in England and Wales.
This follows on from our recent research report “Living in Fear: Experiences of Older Private Sector Tenants in London”, which called for longer tenancies to provide increased stability to older renters.
Though the typical discussion of the rental market has concentrated upon the difficulties faced by younger renters, our research over the last two years has revealed that many of these issues are faced by the older generation too. In fact, these problems frequently have an especially large impact upon the wellbeing of older people – particularly in terms of health and social care, as greater emphasis is being placed on people managing conditions at home.
Funded by the Nationwide Foundation, our research found that security of tenure was the most frequently-discussed issue during our interviews with older private-renters. The majority of older private-renters who engaged with the research were looking for a home for life that they could make their own and feel at home in. The lack of security provided by the current Assured Shorthold Tenancies has grossly undermined older Londoners’ ability to feel at home, invest in their property, and discuss repairs and adaptations with their landlord for fear of repercussions.
This is a hugely pressing matter, as the number of older private-renters in London is expected to double between 2014 and 2039, a fact corroborated by new statistics from the government’s most recent English Housing Survey, which suggest that the number of older private-tenants is set to increase at an unprecedented level over the coming years.
Our CEO Paul Goulden, commented:
“This is a positive step towards providing older Londoners with the security of tenure needed to make their property feel like a home. A three-year tenancy will help to reduce the feeling of helplessness felt by many older private-renters on Assured Shorthold Tenancies in London and will allow for a much more equal relationship with their landlord. Yet this is not the end of the discussion. With the number of older private renters set to increase at speed, there is still much to be done to make sure that London’s private-rental sector can meet their specific needs in the coming years and we support calls for longer and more secure tenancies in future.”
It is clear that the move towards three-year tenancies is a step in the right direction. However it is also clear that this is still a very short period of time for a tenancy, especially for older renters that wish to remain in a property for a far longer period of time. Equally, when compared to the length of tenure in some countries across Europe, three years doesn’t compare. This suggests that whilst some progress is being made, a societal shift is needed to recognise that for many people, renting is the only option and that they need and deserve proper security of tenure. We hope that the government will push through with the increased tenancy agreements, but will continue to work to improve the experiences of private renters across London.