Renting a home can be stressful, frustrating and even kind of frightening – tenants in high-demand areas can sometimes feel as though they're at their landlords' mercy.
So it's encouraging to hear that the government wants to introduce new measures to give tenants greater protection and security. Under proposals due to be published tomorrow, landlords will be obliged to give tenants a minimum three-year contract.
Under the proposals, tenants will still be able to leave the property before the end of the three-year contract if they want to.
At present, around four in five tenancy agreements in England and Wales cover a short rental period of between 6 and 12 months.
"It is deeply unfair when renters are forced to uproot their lives or find new schools for their children at short notice due to the terms of their rental contract," the government's communities secretary James Brokenshire, who is behind the proposals, told the BBC.
"Being able to call your rental property your home is vital to putting down roots and building stronger communities. That’s why I am determined to act, bringing in longer tenancies which will bring benefits to tenants and landlords alike."
Greater protection for tenants is vital in a property market where the odds of owning your own home are increasingly stacked against us. Though recent figures reveal that house prices in London have fallen, they continue to rise across the UK as a whole, and prices in major cities such as Sheffield, Manchester and Glasgow are creeping up especially steeply.
However, Labour's shadow housing secretary John Healey has said that the government's new proposals aren't tough enough to offer proper protection for renters. Healy argues that New York City-style rent control is necessary if tenants are to feel completely secure in their rental home.
"Any fresh help for renters is welcome but this latest promise is meaningless if landlords can still force tenants out by hiking up the rent," he told The Guardian. "That’s why Labour’s new rights for renters includes controls on rents as well as an end to no-fault evictions and protection against substandard rented homes."