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Volume 563: debated on Monday 3 June 2013

14. What steps he is taking to ensure that all tenants have the option to sign up to longer-term tenancies. (157173)

The initial fixed term under an assured shorthold tenancy is usually six months, but there is nothing to stop a landlord and tenant agreeing to a longer tenancy if that suits them both. I am encouraged to see that Build to Rent investors are keen to promote longer tenancies.

In Brighton and Hove, we have an acute housing crisis with a private rented sector that is twice the national average at 21% and a generation of families living in uncertainty with short-term tenancies. Does the Minister agree that longer-term tenancies should be much more widely available and will he consider measures to incentivise landlords to offer longer-term tenancies through changes to capital gains tax and national insurance contributions, which have been proposed by a number of housing charities?

We are already considering the proposals the hon. Lady mentions. May I remind her that only 9% of tenancies are ended by the landlord, and that is usually because they want to live in the property or to sell it? The majority of landlords want to keep their tenants rather than face empty properties, but we need to get the balance right between the rights of landlords and those of tenants while maintaining the confidence of mortgage lenders.

Hackney has more people renting privately than owning homes, so this is a big issue. Mortgage lenders are one of the bars to tenants, so what is the Minister doing to discuss that issue with the Treasury and other interested Departments? I should draw Members’ attention to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.

The hon. Lady is absolutely right to say that we need to increase the availability of privately rented accommodation and that is why the Government have introduced £1 billion of funding through various schemes to provide support for that. I suspect that further announcements will be made in a relatively short time.