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Periodic Tenancies - the danger to the lettings sector

As part of The Renters’ Reform White Paper, the UK government proposed that all tenants be moved onto a single system of periodic tenancies, meaning that they can leave poor quality housing without remaining liable for the rent or move more easily when their circumstances change.

Propertymark says that the announcement on periodic tenancies is likely to cause a significant shift in the private rented sector and with students operating on a cyclical academic year, the proposals will not be fit for purpose.

Some of the properties providing student accommodation in key cities and university towns have had their Article 4 Directive, which removes permitted development rights, revoked to help control and limit the problems associated with HMOs in neighbourhoods such as waste and noise pollution. 


Where PDRs remain in place, they give landlords express permission to use properties as Houses in Multiple Occupation - that is, three unrelated sharers.

Many local MPs and councillors that I have questioned on the obvious issues involved with tenancies becoming periodic for student let properties have been suggesting that if a landlord is provided with a notice to vacate within an academic year, they could look to rent their property either as a short term let, or a longer-term residential let tenancy, however this is not a practical or viable option to most.

In select cities and towns throughout England, where Article 4 has been revoked, landlords must apply for a change of use from HMO (Class C4) to dwelling house (Class C3), which in most areas would not be unlikely due to the criteria of Article 4 in relation to HMO properties.

Under current proposals purpose-built student accommodation will be exempt from these changes, however as 30 per cent of all student accommodation is provided by private landlords, I feel that the exemption should apply to all student property whether privately or university-run.

The proposals are very likely to cause an exodus of landlords due to the complexities of student Tenancy Agreements and difficulties with planning permissions, this will therefore leave a significant gap in supply.

The government has acknowledged that the proposals may not be fit for all circumstances and Propertymark is analysing The Renters’ Reform White Paper to ensure that its members are represented, and the sector’s voice is heard.

* Sophie Lang is director of lettings at Lewis Haughton Wills and a Propertymark regional executive *

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  •  G romit

    Is this just cack-handed drafting or a concious favouring of big businesses (aka Tory donors) in the PBSA sector?


    I think it just shows that those coming up with these ideas know very little about the PRS and make all sorts of incorrect assumptions. Problem is those assumptions could well make things a whole lot worse, which you would have to hope is not what is intended. They would only need to ask about half a dozen actual landlords to get all the information they need, but clearly that's too difficult.

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    Disgraceful behaviour by people in Authorities that shouldn’t be in a job of any sort not alone in a law making positions. Scrap the White Toilet Paper now before it does
    billions of £’s more damage, look at what damage its cause even now before it comes in at all. People selling up or switching away because of the removal of Section 21. Its so un just it shouldn’t see the light of day.
    Great Suggestions Periodic Tenancies walk away at any time or stay as long as you like, now further blame the condition of the Property, don’t pay and walk away, this will be the damage they caused themselves wonderful just an other rotten scan like the 2015 DeRegulation Act’ that was never required. We are already excluded from our property that’s now out of control, to allow them to over crowd at sublet or Rent 2 Rent it’s that ridiculous but LL has to stay quiet and turn a blind eye, because he’s the one that gets fined for the crime he did commit, it’s the new justice system where the innocent party pays for other’s crimes
    They are really taking the mick.

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    I've had enough. I have 8 three bedroom houses which I let to families but always on a 1 year fixed term contract which up to now I have been happy to renew provided rent has been paid when due and they notify me of any issues with property and don't try fixing things themselves. I have decided to sell 1 house per year. I feel sorry for these families, some have been with me for 10 years but the odds are now going to be stacked so far in favour of tenants that I want out. Let us hope the government will be finding houses for these tenants to live in because they don't earn enough to save a deposit and there seems to be a shortage of PR properties as government have already driven out many btl LL. Tenants will not thank the government when they are made homeless and put into temporary accommodation.

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    Politicians know exactly what the score is. Eddie Hughes was chairman of Walsall housing group, formerly it was Walsall's council housing. Walsall has two no go areas ! This articles writer seems primarily concerned with the student market, where students get dead end degrees and debt for life !

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    Fair to Sophie, of Propertymark fighting their corner for its members on aspects of WHITE PAPER before it gets too far advance when nothing can be changed.
    Where are our Landlords Association's they are staying very quiet just waiting for it to happen, to start more money streams on the back of the WHITE PAPER.
    What about Redress Schemes more bureaucracy to Redress whom it certainly won’t be to give LL any rights, is it any wonder they only have 100k members after all those years and including amalgamation, out of a pot of 2.5m landlords, surely they should have a couple of million members by now if they driven by self-interest. Membership should be closer to 100%, something seriously wrong here Landlords needs to use that thing in their heads called a brain.


    Good question, where are our landlord associations, Eastern Landlords Association are silent, I've now cancelled my ddr to them so after nearly 30 yrs as a member I shall cease to be one next yr, can anyone recommend a worth while landlord association to join ?

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    So if it taken 50 years to get 100k members (they should be able to get that in a week), how many years will it take our body to be able to claim to be a representative of 2.5m Landlords, or are there 2.4m Landlords without a voice.

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    I don't understand why anyone would think anything other than fixed tenancies are suitable for either the student or winter let markets.
    I always offer my students first refusal for the following year. It's usual for part of a group to stay and find new people to fill gaps for the following year. If groups are staying for an extra year I don't charge for August which they really appreciate. This summer 2 of my students are staying right through the summer, as they have part time jobs here, and they have friends and family coming to stay for mini breaks. It's nice for them and means I don't have to deal with any cleaning or decorating in that house this summer. Next year the September 2023 group will be signed up around January. The current ones will graduate in mid July and vacate the house by 31st July. I will have August to do any decorating or repairs. It's a proven model that has worked for decades and would be tragic if it was changed.

    Equally I don't understand why the vast majority of other tenancies wouldn't roll onto Statutory Periodic tenancies after the initial fixed term.
    Life doesn't work in 12 months chunks after leaving education. It must be horribly stressful to try and guess how a landlord would react if you were offered a promotion 200 miles away 3 months into another 12 month contract in your home. Or spend the second half of every 12 months worrying about whether the landlord will renew. In reality how many landlords who use fixed term tenancies routinely don't renew those tenancies? How many wouldn't release someone mid way through if their circumstances changed?
    I've always let non student tenancies start as a 6 month AST and then roll onto SPTs. It's always worked well. Tenants can get on with whatever stuff is going on in their lives without having to factor in an unnecessary barrier. They can accept job offers, move in with partners, buy a house without worrying about where they're at in a 12 month tenancy. They just have to give a month's notice when they want to leave. I suspect a great many stay much longer than they would if they were on fixed term tenancies as they don't have that milestone annual tenancy renewal rigmarole to think about.

    It would be interesting to know if Section 21s are mainly issued to tenants on fixed term tenancies or on SPTs.


    Great points Jo.

    However, I have had tenants want another twelve month fixed term after the original fixed term ended. They didn't want to move onto a periodic tenancy.

    I have also had sharers who want six month fixed term tenancies at a time because both are from overseas and want the certainty of a short term contract because one may wish to leave at the end of the six months and the other may then make a new decision about what they want to do.

    Any contractual relationship is about what all parties to the contract want.

    Abolishing Section 21 discounts the rights of a landlord to have any input into the length of the tenancy and that would be the red line for me. I wouldn't let.


    Ellie - I understand that some tenants request another fixed term but have always wondered why they want something so prescribed and theoretically inflexible. I can understand why Letting Agents loved fixed term tenancies as they used to be able to charge lots of fees to all parties. I've never understood the attraction for landlords or tenants.

    In reality what do you do if a tenant wants to leave mid way through a fixed term?
    Legally you could expect them to pay until the end of the fixed term and just leave the house empty. In reality how many landlords would do that?

    I have an extreme example at the moment. A single male professional moved into one of my HMOs last Saturday on a 6 month AST, started a new job on Monday, realised it wasn't for him, packed up and moved back to London, emailed me on Friday to say he's gone, knows he's liable for the rent but could I try and re-let the room ASAP. I listed the room on Friday afternoon, have had 45 enquiries, did 6 viewings yesterday, narrowed it down to 3 for the other housemates to meet and choose from. Depending which one they choose the new person will move in sometime between 24th July and 31st August at which point the original tenant's liability ends. Apparently I can charge a £50 admin fee for finding a replacement tenant.

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    Jo- When it comes to fixed term tenancies it depends on the circumstances. If you have sharers on one contract, it can be an advantage if they all leave at the same time - or at least if the contract ends at the same time for all of them. There can be big problems with tenants bringing in substitute tenants, particularly if the "substitute" thinks that this can entirely avoid any referencing procedure - and that has been my experience unfortunately.

    Generally, I am very flexible indeed and if a tenant wants to leave early I, like you, would charge them as little as possible. I generally bear the loss myself.

    In fact, I actually tell tenants when we start a fixed term tenancy that if they want to leave early they can and I will only charge them for as long as they stay - providing they all leave at the same time. That gives them the right to stay for the fixed term, but I am prepared for them to go when they like.

    I don't have a problem with reletting property very quickly because my rents are low, so it doesn't make any difference to me when they leave at all.

    Although I am very flexible in giving tenants want they want, I draw the line at handing the properties over for life.

    In my view, without section 21, it is better to sell them now. There is no guarantee at all that a desire to sell the properties will be a mandatory ground for regaining possession in the near future. It is quite likely that Labour will win the next election and will change the law to make landlords sell with the tenants in place and give the tenants the right to buy first, probably at the applicable low price that arises for a tenanted property where the tenants have security of tenure.


    I understand the concerns about operating without Section 21. It's always been nice to know it's there even if we never need to use it.
    However, how many tenants are evicted for any reason other than rent arrears, ASB or because the landlord or close family member wants to move into the house or sell up? The White Paper claims all those things will still be covered.
    The no fault connotations of Section 21 are hugely beneficial to tenants and I don't think it's been fully understood how harmful to tenants the loss of Section 21 will be. The Council will no longer have a duty to house them as it will be seen to be their fault they have been evicted. Whereas with Section 21 it's hard to get any debt repaid, with Section 8 it's far easier.


    That's all true, Jo, about the impact of Section 8 on tenants.

    However, the Section 8 grounds are all discretionary now in Scotland and they may remain so. No guarantee that you will gain possession.

    If the white paper becomes law then landlords' rights will only diminish further under a Labour Government. In my mind it is too risky to continue letting that way- and it is not a good business decision. In fact, I wouldn't entertain the possibility.

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    All good points and real life storeys. So Tenant decides the job is not for him up sticks and gone instantly.
    What about Landlords flexibility when he finds out he’s been lumbered with a Tenant he can’t stand, he’s expected to tolerate him and now given a life sentence as per WHITE PAPER.

    Matthew Payne

    Thats the point about government and legislating on property in recent years, looks good on paper maybe, but they dont get what happens in real life.


    This is me now. Terrible tenant. 3 weeks in arrears. £thousands in mould remediation. No win no-fee solicitor defence latter required (£600). I want to kick her out but it's an old house and she keeps reporting endless trivial repairs. Thanks Deregulation Act. I AM NOT GOING AHEAD UNDER THE WHITE PAPER. So it's bye bye time and put the house on the market to get out.

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    Jo Westlake, l find your virtue signalling obnoxious. A nice polish lady moving home with two children wanted a short term rent. No children appeared she used the place to breed dangerous dogs and supply personal services. Cleared all the letting agents checks ! Police, council, RSPCA didn't want to know.


    This is the problem. Once you have let the flat, as a landlord, you are in very vulnerable posiiton if you have let to the wrong tenants.

    It is very difficult now - and if power shifts further to tenants giving them indefinite tenancies we are going to be in real trouble.

    Letting agents sometimes don't reference properly.


    Agreed Ellie, use a '' proper'' letting agent that does reference properly and double check with them, I always talk to my agent about new tenants and ask questions before deciding who to rent to, this is very important now more than ever before, we cannot risk a rogue tenant getting into one of our properties


    You sound as though you are managing things very wisely, Andrew.

    It IS quite worrying letting at the moment because of the impending change in the law. However, I am working on the assumption that nothing can change in the next few months.

    Parliament rises/shuts down in four days, I believe, so no bill can start going through Parliament until September, and then it will take a while before it is in force.

    The timetable is unpredictable - and we can only hope that the new Prime minister is not so unfair to landlords.

    In terms of timing, I believe that the Short-term and Holiday-let Accommodation (Licensing) Bill is due for its second reading on 9th December 2022.


    This is my position. My tenant lied about being a finance professional. She's actually a hairdresser on benefits. Lots of kids (not authorised), pays late every month, demands insulation and other UPGRADES. A real PITA.

    I trusted the agent had done reasonable checks. They use a well know tenant referencing co. I've since looked into it after all my problems and discover it's all done verbally over the phone. Tenant uploads some documents (whatever they are, probably containing their friend's as a reference) and they get lots of Yes answers back!

    Tenant's do not need any more power than now!


    You must be going through a very trying time, Nick. I do sympathise.

    I have never used a Section 8 ground myself, so I don't know the practical problems attached to doing so. However, Section 8 ground 17 may allow you to gain possession if the tenancy was granted by a false statement. The statement does not have to have been made to the landlord.

    It is a discretionary ground, but if there has been flagrant lying then the court might find in your favour. This is a relevant case - Shrewsbury and Atcham BC v Evans (1997) 30 HLR 123, CA.

    The statement that she is a finance professional sounds like an obviously false one. If she had said that she was a hairdresser and then claimed benefits, too, I don't think you would have much of a case - as low paid jobs can result in income being topped up.

    You are required to give only two weeks notice of proceedings.

    A problem could be that your tenant could counterclaim against you if there are any rent arrears and she is saying that there has been disrepair.

    I believe that the relevant form is on the gov.uk website - form 3


    Another issue about your situation, Nick, is if the flat is now overcrowded due to their being "lots of kids" whom you weren't expecting in the arrangement. If you were letting a studio flat to a woman whom you thought was a single finance professional and she turned out to have three children all aged over 10, then the likelihood would be that there is overcrowding now.

    In those circumstances she would count as homeless and would have priority if she applied for council housing. I am not sure how using Section 8 would affect the likelihood that the council would rehouse her- if it is seen as her fault - due to her false representation - if she were evicted.

    However, I think many judges would hesitate to evict a woman with lots of children, and so you might lose on Section 8 Ground 17 - a discretionary ground.

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    Andrew, l find your comment nauseating and supercilious. The principal of the letting agent in question was formerly a president of ARLA. However they do subcontract their referencing to a specialist. A lot depends on their financial record, and a good con artist can easily get thru any checks. If section 21 goes fee hungry lawyers will empower the tenants to take your property off you. Look what's happening to the NHS, with massive claims for negligence, but is it deserved? Big difference between a court and an operating theatre.


    I hope you soon recover Edwin, lol

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    Thankyou Andrew. I have taken aforesaid letting agent to court because their electrical contractor supplied a fake certificate. It's been very tedious and the letting agent agent claimed they were going abroad, so she didn't turn up, but the electrical contractor did, and l obtained judgement against him. They haven't paid so l have sent the balliffs in. I have also had trouble with a gas contractor similarly, gasafe seems to have buried it. Angels media aren't interested in the stories !


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