The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) has reacted furiously to growing speculation that the government will press ahead with its plans to give tenants a minimum three-year contract this week - but allow them to walk away earlier if they wish - before the existing consultation period has even ended.
The longer tenancies, proposed by the housing, communities and local government secretary, James Brokenshire, in a consultation paper published last month, would stop landlords forcing tenants out at short notice.
About four out of five tenancies in England and Wales are set at six months or 12 months, with the assured shorthold tenancy most common in the buy-to-let industry.
The consultation is designed to examine whether there should be exemptions from the three-year rule for student accommodation, where tenancies are tied to the academic year.
Under the proposed longer-term agreement put forward by Brokenshire, tenants would be able to leave before the end of the minimum term, but would have greater protection if they wanted to stay in a property for an extended period of time.
However, the RLA said it would be it would be “highly irregular” for the government to make an announcement on longer tenancies this week before the consultation has even closed and it has had chance to properly consider all responses.
The RLA Policy Director, David Smith, commented: “As well as showing disregard for recognised procedure, it would suggest that the government does not want to listen to those who will be directly affected by any change.
“Government should work with landlords to introduce change that improves the rental process for both landlords and tenants, otherwise there is a danger that even more landlords will leave the sector which is already shrinking.”