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In select cities and towns throughout England, where Article 4 has been revoked, landlords must apply for a change of use from HMO (Class C4) to dwelling house (Class C3), which in most areas would not be unlikely due to the criteria of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