A few weeks ago I was asked a fascinating question by a local Councilor who, after reading the Cambridge Property Blog, emailed me and asked me – “Are Cambridge Landlords meeting the Challenges of tenanted families bringing up their families in Cambridge?”
What interesting question to be asked.
Irrespective of whether you are tenant or a homeowner, to bring up a family, the most important factors are security and stability in the home. A great bellwether of that security and stability in a rented property 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 “left leaning Politian’s” keep saying we need to deal with the terrible insecurity of Britain’s private rental market by creating longer tenancies of 3 or 5 years instead of the current six months. However, the numbers seem to be telling a different story. The average length of residence in private rental homes has risen in 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 Cambridge compared to the National figures, of the 15,299 private rental homes in Cambridge, 2,858 of these have dependent children in them (or 18.7%), which is interestingly (although expected) below the National average of already stated 37.4%.
Even more fascinating are the other tenure types in Cambridge…
- 3% of Social (Council) Housing in Cambridge have dependent children
- 42% of Cambridge Owner Occupiers (with a Mortgage) have dependent children
- 1% of Owner Occupiers (without a Mortgage) have dependent children
Although, when we look at the length of time these other tenure types have, whilst the average length of a tenancy for the private rented sector is 4 years, it is 11.4 years in social (council) housing, 24.1 years for home owners without a mortgage and 10.4 years of homeowners with mortgages.
Anecdotally I have always known this, but this just proves landlords do not spend their time seeking opportunities to evict a tenant as the average length of tenancy has steadily increased. This noteworthy 8.1% increase in the average length of time tenants stay in a private rented property over the last 5 years, shows tenants are happy to stay longer and start families.
So, as landlords are already meeting tenants’ wants and needs when it comes to the length of tenancy, I find it strange some politicians are calling for fixed term 3 and 5 year tenancies. Such heavy handed regulation could stop landlords renting their property out in the first place, cutting off the supply of much needed rental property, meaning tenants would suffer as rents went up. Also, if such legislation was brought in, tenants would loose their ‘Get Out of Jail card’, as under current rules, they can leave at anytime with one months notice not the three or six month tenant notice suggested by some commenters.
Finally, there is an extra piece of good news for Cambridge tenants. The English Housing Survey notes that those living in private rented housing for a long periods of time generally paid less rent than those who chopped and changed.