Renters Reform Bill U-turn on fixed term contracts for students

Propertymark has long campaigned that banning all fixed-term contracts would disproportionately impact groups who depend on cyclical accommodation, such as students, and transient and contract workers.

Students socialising in the kitchen

Our Future of Renting position paper, published in December 2021, highlighted to the UK Government that setting an arbitrary minimum fixed term length will mean that those living in the privately rented sector on a temporary basis will find it difficult to rent a property.

The Future of Renting front cover
The Future of Renting

The Future of Renting features our recommendations to the UK Government and its plans to reform the private rented sector in England. We want to help shape and influence the UK Government’s Renters’ Reforms White Paper which is due to be released in 2022.

Clause to exempt to guarantee vacant possession

An article in The Telegraph today, 23 May 2023, states Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, is now considering an amendment to the Renters (Reform) Bill introduced into Parliament on 17 May 2023. An amendment to this would be expected to allow landlords to guarantee vacant possession for the next cohort of students and to retain their yearly let business model. A specific clause would then be added to the Bill for privately let student property.

A government spokesperson stated they will continue to engage on these measures to ensure things work for both parties, as they feel the vast majority of students move out at the end of the academic year and will not be impacted.

The Government's own House of Commons report, issued in February 2023, plus evidence following similar reforms in Scotland, show that abolishing FTTAs will lead to a reduction in the amount of housing available to students. A recommendation to the UK Government was to retain fixed-term contracts in the student PRS, citing the evidence on not exempting them could push up rents or reduce availability.

The Higher Education Policy Institute has also issued a statement with the same concerns. Abolishing fixed-term tenancy agreements does provide greater flexibility for students, but it comes at the risk of creating student homelessness, housing instability, increased rental prices and further mental health challenges.

They also recommended that provision is made for off-street student accommodation to be given the same exemption from the abolition of fixed-term tenancy agreements as has been provided for purpose-built student accommodation.

Concerns will continue to be raised

Propertymark is continuing to engage with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to seek clarity on amendments, outlining our continued concerns, our evidence and the detrimental impact it will have.

The UK Government must understand the ramifications that changing fixed-term tenancies to periodic will have within the student let market.

Our member agents continue to express concerns, stating that without the seasonal predictability provided through fixed-term tenancies, the market will be unable to continue to provide a consistent supply of homes at the points of the year where it is needed most and risks reducing housing options for students.

We will be continuing to scrutinise the reforms and will look to work with the UK Government to create practical and sustainable solutions moving forward.

Timothy Douglas Serious.jpg
Timothy Douglas Head of Policy and Campaigns | Propertymark