how does tenancy length affect families with children in Colchester?

Is Tenancy Length an Indicator of Happy Families in Colchester?

A few weeks ago I received an interesting email, related to tenancy length, from a Colchester Councillor asking me: “Are Colchester landlords meeting the challenges of tenanted families bringing up their families in Colchester?”

Irrespective of whether you are tenant or a homeowner bringing up a family the most important factors are security and stability in the home. In rented properties tenancy length is a good indicator of stability is whether tenants are constantly being evicted. Many tenancies last just six months with families at risk of being thrown out after that with just two months’ notice for no reason.

Some politicians and commentators believe the way to deal with insecurity in Britain’s private rental market is by creating longer tenancies between 3 and 5 years instead of the current 6 to 12 months. However, the numbers seem to tell a different story. The average tenancy length in private rental homes has risen over the last 5 years from 3.7 years to 4 years (a growth of 8.1%), which in turn has directly affected the number of renters who have children. In fact, the proportion of private rented property that have dependent children in them, has gone from 29.1% in 2003 to 37.4% today.

Looking specifically at Colchester compared to the National figures, of the 11,596 private rental homes in Colchester, 3,830 have dependent children in them (33%) which is (as I expected) below the previously stated 37.4% national average. Also refer to the graph at the top of the page.

How Tenure Types in Colchester with Dependent Children Compare:

  • 33% of private rental homes in Colchester have dependent children
  • 37.1% of social (Council) housing in Colchester have dependent children
  • 43.1% of Colchester owner occupiers with a mortgage have dependent children
  • 7.2% of owner occupiers without a mortgage have dependent children

Average Tenancy Length By Tenure Type:

  • 4 years in the private rented sector
  • 11.4 years in social (council) housing
  • 24.1 years for home owners without a mortgage
  • 10.4 years of homeowners with mortgages.

Anecdotally I already knew this, but this does indicate landlords are not actively seeking to evict tenants otherwise the average tenancy length would not have steadily increased over recent years. Furthermore the 8.1% increase in the average tenancy length in a private rented property, over the last 5 years, indicates tenants are generally happy to stay longer and start families.

It seems to me landlords are already meeting tenants needs so, when it comes to tenancy length, I don’t believe regulation to increase the initial tenancy length to between 3 to 5 years is needed. On the contrary I believe this could discourage landlords renting their property out in the first place – reducing the number of much needed rental properties and inevitably lead to higher rents!
Some commentators have suggested the notice period should be extended to three or six months but this would mean tenants lose their “Get Out of Jail Card” which means, under the current rules, they can leave whenever they like with just one months notice.

Finally, here’s a snippet of good news for loyal Colchester tenants, the English Housing Survey reports tenants living in private rented housing for longer periods of time generally pay less rent than those that chop and change.

I’m always available to chat informally about any aspect of the housing market in Colchester and would be interested to hear your views about tenancy length and family life in rented properties in Colchester. Please ring 01206 862288, email me at grahamwood@hometorent.co.uk or add your comments below.

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