‘Indefinite tenancies could help thousands in Crawley renters’

'To Let' signs in another part of the county
'To Let' signs in another part of the county

A German way of protecting tenants from being unfairly evicted has been embraced by one Crawley councillor and cautiously supported by another.

The system of ‘indefinite’ tenancies means landlords in Germany can only evict tenants on tightly defined grounds such as rent arrears and criminal behaviour.

Labour leader Peter Lamb said adopting the German system would ‘revolutionise the private rental market’ and benefit more than 10,500 households in Crawley.

Mr Lamb added: “Like many in my generation, I’ve been trapped in the private rental sector since leaving home, left unsure year-to-year where I’m going to be living next.

“Almost a quarter of Crawley’s households are currently in private rented housing, and that number is growing every year.

“It’s time we ended the uncertainly for these tens of thousands of local residents and gave them the tenancy security they deserve.”

But Conservative group leader Duncan Crow was not so sure.

While supporting the idea of indefinite tenancies ‘as an option among many types of tenancies’, he didn’t think suggestions to make them compulsory had been properly thought through.

Mr Crow said: “If increased rents, less availability of properties and less flexibility for tenants to move is what the outcomes would be, then it is right that such proposals deserve proper scrutiny rather than just an eye-catching headline.

“In Germany many rental properties have literally nothing inside, such as no white goods or even carpets. It is up to tenants to purchase them.

“A forced change-over to a German system is bound to see a one-off steep increase in rents as well as risk landlords taking properties out of the private rental sector when their current leases ends.

“This could mean that tenants are turfed out of properties when they would not otherwise be.

“Along with higher rents and having to purchase cookers and carpets, tenants losing their homes would be a very perverse outcome for a so-called indefinite tenancies policy.”

The average tenancy in Germany is 11 years, compared to between 2.5 and four years in the UK.