Breaking: Labour announces commitment to indefinite tenancies for private renters

John Healey

Labour commits to indefinite tenancies for tenants in private rented accommodation

Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey has pledged that the next Labour Government will protect private renters in England from eviction with new ‘indefinite’ tenancies, based on rules currently in place in Germany.

A revolutionised rental market

The change would revolutionise the private rental market. German tenancies last, on average, 11 years, compared to around 4 years in England. The German system is also widely seen to act as a brake on rent increases, given that landlords may use the changeover of tenants as an opportunity to hike rents. Tenants themselves are still be able to choose to leave the property after a period of notice.

In England, according to a survey of landlords conducted by the Government, landlords or their agents make the decision to end almost one in five tenancies (18%). At present, tenants can be evicted without any reason being given, and despite having done nothing wrong. One in three private renters – 1.6m households – have dependent children.


Under the German system, tenancies are effectively open-ended with a tenant only able to be evicted on tightly defined grounds, for example if they don’t pay the rent or commit criminal behaviour in the property.

At the 2017 election, Labour committed to default three year tenancies. Labour will now consult widely with landlord and tenant groups on the proper grounds for termination of a tenancy, ahead of the next general election. The Party has previously set out additional measures for controls on rents and tougher standards which will sit alongside this new proposal.

John Healey MP, Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary, said:

People shouldn’t be living in fear of losing their homes.

The insecurity of renting is a power imbalance at the heart of our broken housing market, where tenants are afraid to report problems in case they are evicted, and families with children are forced to move at short notice.

Many landlords provide decent homes that tenants are happy with, but the Government is allowing rogue landlords to take advantage of good tenants. Renters deserve better

SKWAWKBOX comment:

Only Labour has the will and the politics to bring about real change for the many – and this landmark commitment is a demonstration of it.

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  1. If it works in Germany, then there is no reason whatsoever why it can’t work here. The real qustion is: Why wasn’t this done decades ago!

    1. I forgot to mention that a new poll has been added to the wikipedia list of polls in the past few hours. Yes, as expected, it’s another yougov poll for the Times, and (would you believe it!), it has the Tories NINE points ahead of Labour, with the Tories on 40% and Labour on 31%. What is particularly interesting though is that the poll was conducted on 3rd-4th of March, and yet only published today, five days later (it’s normally the following day, or a couple of days at the most, unless the poll was comissioned for a Sunday paper, in which case it can potentially be a few days).

      There have been six polls conducted in the past three weeks, three of them by yougov for the Times, and three by other polling organisations. The yougov polls have the Tories ahead by an average of just over nine points, and the other three have the Tories ahead by an average of just under six points:


    1. Mr. Murphy’s piece assumes the initial announcement encompasses the whole policy and judges it on that.
      Such a view ignores the likelihood that Labour’s policy will be flexible, as all policies are.
      Flexible certainly in that owner-occupier landlords will be considered as a different case to buy-to-let professional landlords, and different again to housing associations or local councils.
      His criticism is premature.

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