Unlocking Stability: The Case for Lifetime Tenancies in the private rented sector in Wales

June 24, 2024

In the realm of housing, stability is the cornerstone upon which individuals and communities thrive. It gives those living in their homes a sense of belonging, of security and a chance to build a space in which to thrive.

In Wales, as in many parts of the world, the concept of lifetime tenancies is only a beacon of hope to those in the social rented sector. Across the border in England, lifetime tenancies are a thing of the past, even for the social rented sector, with the introduction of flexible term tenancies in 2012. The Welsh Government has taken a different approach and Tirion Homes supports this approach, in the knowledge that your home is not just a roof over your head, but a foundation for lifelong security and prosperity.

Traditionally, private rented sector tenancy agreements – or as they are now known occupation contracts – have been characterised by their finite nature, often subject to periodic reviews and potential termination, leaving tenants vulnerable to displacement and instability. However, the landscape is evolving. At its core, a lifetime tenancy offers the assurance of security, providing tenants with the peace of mind that their home is theirs for as long as they need it.

This sense of permanence is invaluable, particularly those that are more vulnerable such as the elderly, individuals with disabilities, and families with young children. By removing the fear of eviction, lifetime tenancies lay the groundwork for stability, allowing individuals to establish roots, build communities, and plan for the future with confidence.

Social Cohesion and Community Wellbeing

At Tirion Homes, our mixed tenure communities are really important to us. We have a minimum 50-year investment in our homes and it is important that they are attractive, well managed places where people aspire to live. The benefits of lifetime tenancies extend beyond the individual, permeating into the fabric of society itself.

We know that stable housing fosters social cohesion and community wellbeing, creating environments where residents are invested in the prosperity of their neighbourhoods. When individuals feel secure in their homes, they are more likely to engage in community activities, support local businesses, and contribute to the social and economic vitality of their surroundings.

Moreover, lifetime tenancies serve as a catalyst for economic empowerment, enabling tenants to allocate resources towards other essential needs such as education, healthcare, and savings. With the burden of housing insecurity lifted, individuals are better positioned to pursue opportunities for personal and professional growth, ultimately leading to greater financial independence and upward mobility.

Sustainable Solutions for Affordable Housing

When we look at it from a Welsh perspective, where we know that affordable, quality housing remains a pressing issue, lifetime tenancies offer a sustainable solution that transcends the short-term fixes of the private rented sector (PRS).

Since the pandemic, there has been a significant shift in the private rented sector with rents increasing, landlords selling their properties and evictions into homelessness on the increase significantly. This was further compounded with the introduction of the Renting Homes (Wales) Act, which has placed further pressure on the PRS and social housing to provide suitable homes that are fit for human habitation, as well as putting tenants at the heart of the legislation.

By prioritising long-term stability over transient accommodation, Tirion Homes is laying the groundwork for a housing system that is resilient, inclusive, and equitable. Moreover, by reducing turnover and the associated administrative costs, lifetime tenancies represent a fiscally responsible investment for the future of Wales’ housing sector.

The benefits of lifetime tenancies in Wales are diverse and far-reaching. From fostering stability and social cohesion, to catalysing economic empowerment and sustainable solutions for affordable housing, the case for lifetime tenancies is clear. We are looking to lead the way in creating a new way of renting that is more resilient and inclusive, with the hope that we can encourage other private landlords to embrace similar policies that prioritise the fundamental right to safe and secure housing for all residents in Wales.