Posts Tagged ‘assured shorthold tenancies’

Towards a real housing revolution: reforming tenure in the private rented sector

17/08/2012, 06:08:47 PM

In May, Romin Sutherland was one of the winners in the” Top of the Policies” vote at Pragmatic Radicalism’s event on housing, with a proposal to reform assured shorthold tenancies

At a time of economic recession, when social house building is at an all-time low and cheap credit is no longer available for most first time buyers, those groups who in better days would have accessed social housing or benefited from more equitable house price to income ratios will increasingly find themselves locked into a cycle of private renting.  In order to ensure that the private rented sector (PRS) is up to the task of housing a growing and ageing population, I am advocating a reform of the current assured shorthold tenancy (AST), which would increase security of tenure beyond the present 6 month minimum, towards one where most private tenants who pay their rent on time and play by the rules are rewarded with long term sustainable tenancies.

If we were to ensure that the PRS was both an affordable and long term option, there would be fewer reasons for households to hold out for social housing.  This would lower waiting times and allow local authorities to focus their energies on the neediest without the resentment that often comes from those who feel excluded.

Anyone working within the advice or local government sectors will be aware of the dangers inherent within complaining about disrepair and maintenance issues.  Not only is this likely to receive little or no attention from the local environmental health authority, it is also likely to see an unscrupulous landlord claiming possession of the property; the so-called “retaliatory eviction”.

If tenants had increased security of tenure, they could enforce their rights without the fear of being evicted.  As time passed and the worst offenders would realise that they could no longer shirk their responsibilities; they may become more proactive about maintenance and emergency repairs, thus reducing the need for enforcement at all.

As tenants are provided with more of a stake in where they live, I would expect to see an increase in tenants’ rights groups acting as advocates and brokers, and taking the lead on community issues.  As tenant groups grow more powerful, this would increase their collective bargaining power and allow them an opportunity to inform decision making in a democratic way.

It would then be up to the tenants and landlords to decide amongst themselves what they most desired; new windows or cheaper rents.


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