Qualitative research to explore the implications for private rented sector tenants and landlords of longer term and moresecure tenancy

This report outlines findings from qualitative research exploring private rented sector tenants' and landlords' knowledge and understanding of the current tenancy, including its advantages and disadvantages. It outlines tenants' and landlords' views and responses to a range of longer term and more secure tenancy options, including the perceived advantages and disadvantages of each.

Appendix 4

Discussion Schedule - Tenants

Notes to discussion leaders:

  • Please take copies of the CEC Model Tenancy agreement, an AT5 and of the 'grounds for possession' (set out below) to the discussion.
  • The schedule assumes the discussion will last for around 60-90 minutes.
  • It will be important to keep the focus of the discussion on the tenancy regime
  • Issues to look out for and explore if appropriate/relevant:
    • Whether views etc are shaped by actual experiences or draw on received wisdoms;
    • Whether a landlord dealing directly with a tenant or using an agent seems to have any effect.
    • whether the rural/small town urban dimension affects views, including whether those looking for properties in different types of areas seem to have different experiences.
    • Impact if any of HB or LHA on ability to find/landlord, agent willingness to let and by extension sense of security etc (note: approach sensitively - possible short phone follow up after the group if appropriate).
    • Impact if any of personal issues that may make it difficult to either secure a property or affect how secure tenant feels (e.g. if need and find an accessible property does the sense of 'rarity' impact on how a tenant behaves.


  • Introductions and 'housekeeping' (emergency exits etc)
  • Brief overview of purpose of research and how findings will be used
  • Agreement to record (including explanation of how recording will be used, stored and destroyed).
  • Agreement to Chatham house rules.

Theme 1 - The current assured and short assured tenancy arrangements

  • Clarify what type of tenancies tenants have. If participants believe they have a SAT, check whether they recall receiving an AT5 (including to all tenants named on the agreement). Do you know/were you aware of what the AT5 is for?
  • What do you believe to be the 'key features' that come with the tenancy type they have? Explore expectations/understanding around security and particularly their understanding of when or on what grounds they can be asked to leave and the arrangements if they wish to give notice.
  • How familiar are you with private sector tenancy regulations in general? Where has any knowledge/understanding come from? How much information have you been given by any landlord/agent prior to or when signing their tenancy? If you have been or might be looking for more information about tenancies, where have you gone/where might you go for that information?
  • How easy is your current tenancy document to understand? Did you go through it before signing? Have you looked at it since? Are you reasonably confident that it complies with legislation/good practice? If so, why? Explore whether use of agent gives confidence, apparent professionalism/size of landlord etc.
  • Have any problems arisen as a result of either not understanding your tenancy document or you having a different understanding to your landlord? If so, what were they and how (if at all) were they resolved?
  • Do you think there is a case for simplifying or standardising tenancy arrangements? If so, do you have any ideas? Explore either principles or specific suggestions as appropriate.
  • Would a standard or 'Model Tenancy Agreement' be a possible/helpful way forward - for example a standard tenancy document that was used by all landlords and with any variations introduced having to be expressly highlighted to any prospective tenant?

Theme 2 - Length of Tenancies

  • Briefly explore why participants are living in the PRS (i.e. choice b/c of period of life, unable to access SRS, unable to afford/not right time for OO)? Explore briefly to contextualise attitude to PRS/perception of whether by choice or necessity etc.
  • What was most important to you when you were looking for your current home? Explore relative priorities around length of tenancy vs location, price, condition etc.
  • How long were you/are you wanting or hoping to stay in your current home? How does that compare to the length of the tenancy you have?
  • Did you discuss how long the tenancy would be for at the outset (with either your landlord or their agent)? Were the arrangements clearly explained to you? Were any alternatives offered/was there any room for negotiation? Explore whether anyone asked for a tenancy that was longer or shorter than 6 months and if so what happened?
  • If the length of tenancy you would have liked and what you have are different, how (if at all) does that affect you? Explore issues around 'putting down roots', in particular any issues around accessing services e.g. schools, health services etc. Alternatively, any issues around people having to stay longer than they might choose?
  • Do you expect/hope to live in the PRS in the longer term or would you expect/hope to move on to either a social rented or owned property? What factors have influenced your longer term preferences? Explore whether any aspects of tenancy regime - such as security - are influencing preferences /intentions and if so how?
  • If you have had a previous tenancy(ies) in the private sector, roughly how long did you stay? Have you had experience of 6 month tenancies 'rolling over'?
  • If you choose to move on, why? Explore issues - 'pushes' (such as too costly, poor quality, difficulties getting repairs done etc) and 'pulls' such as moving location for work, forming new household, being able to afford something bigger/better etc ?
  • Have you ever been asked to move out of a private rented property before you wanted to? If so, under what circumstances? Had the lease come to an end, or did the landlord seek possession? Do you know why the landlord wanted the property back?
  • A Short Assured Tenancy (the one most commonly used in the private rented sector sector) initially lasts for 6 months. How, if at all, does that affect your views on renting in the private sector? How, if at all, does the length of a tenancy affect your relationship with your landlord? Explore any fears, any advantages
  • If the length of tenancies was being reviewed (essentially the SAT 6 month period), what would be the most important characteristics that any new regime would need to have to work for you as a tenant? What do you think might be important to landlords? (Note: specifics discussed below, focus on core characteristics). Explore:
    • Flexibility
    • Security
    • Balance between the two
    • Other……
  • How would you feel about fixed tenancy periods that ran for longer than 6 months, for example for 12 or 24 months? Under such circumstances, what types of conditions or safeguards would be important to you? Explore:
    • The basis on which a landlord was able to require you to leave , including grounds for possession (note - specific grounds discussed in greater detail below)
    • Notice periods (note - specific grounds discussed in greater detail below)
    • Rent increase processes (for example, annual RPI-related, principle set out in tenancy etc)
    • Whether it would affect your ability to find a tenancy
    • Other…...
  • In many countries there are no pre-determined or fixed tenancy periods. Tenancies continue indefinitely until the tenant gives reasonable notice or the landlord seeks possession. Again, under such circumstances, what types of conditions or safeguards would be important to you? Explore:
    • The basis on which a landlord was able to require you to leave , including grounds for possession (note - specific grounds discussed in greater detail below)
    • Notice periods (note - specific grounds discussed in greater detail below)
    • Rent increase processes (for example, annual RPI-related, principle set out in tenancy etc)
    • Whether it would affect your ability to find a tenancy
    • Other…...

Theme 3 - Balance between landlord and tenant rights.

  • Overall, do you feel that the current arrangements strike the right balance between the interests of both tenants and landlords? If not, who is being advantaged or disadvantaged and in what way?
  • In particular, do think the current 'grounds for possession' that apply to a SAT are fair? If not, why not? Have copy of grounds available to circulate. Explore:
    • Has anyone ever sought possession of a property you were living in?
    • If yes, was it easy to understand what was happening?
    • What was the outcome and did it seem fair?
  • What (if any changes) would you like to see? Explore:
    • Should the mandatory 'no fault' ground stay or go and why?
    • Are there any issues arising from the mandatory/discretionary division?
    • Are there any grounds that should not be there?
    • Are there any grounds that are missing?
  • How would you feel about linking notice periods with how long a tenant has been living in the property? (For example, if someone had lived in a period for more than a year, they would be entitled to a longer notice period, possibly on a sliding scale up to a maximum period). If such an approach was being considered, what 'principles' should underpin it? What could be the pros and cons (from both a tenant and a landlord perspective) of such an approach? Explore:
    • Reciprocity (for example, if you got longer, would it also be fair for you to need to give longer notice to the landlord?
    • Reasonable levels/thresholds
    • Other….
  • Do you have any (other) suggestions as to how the tenancy regime could be changed to encourage constructive relationships between tenants and landlords? Explore:
    • Perceptions that tenants may be concerned to raise 'quality' issues in case their tenancy is not renewed.
    • Any ways the tenancy regime could assist in promoting open dialogue.

Next steps, thank yous and close.


Email: Elinor Findlay

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