A minimum tenancy term of three years would be introduced under government proposals to give people renting homes in England more security.
Figures show 80% of tenants currently have contracts of six or 12 months and ministers say longer agreements would allow them to put down more roots.
They add tenants would be able to leave earlier under the plans while landlords would get more financial security.
Labour says the plans do not go far enough and rent rises should be capped.
Polly Neate, chief executive of housing charity Shelter, said loss of tenancy was “the main driver of homelessness” and called for the government to “go beyond three years”.
A consultation on the minimum tenancy term will run until the end of the August.
Exemptions to the rules could apply to some types of tenant – for instance those in student accommodation.
Government figures show renters do stay in a property for an average of four years but most have shorter contracts.
George Robertson, a landlord from St Albans, is concerned about how the proposals will affect him.
“I am a landlord with one house used as a pension top-up after my wife’s state pension age was hiked up at short notice,” he said.
“We feel this proposal will force small landlords like us, with just one property, out of the market [and] it will make it so much harder to manage difficulties with problem tenants.
“If this becomes law I will sell my property as we couldn’t face the hassle of dealing with possible issues.”
Jonathan Pearson, a renter living in London, is worried the proposals will mean less flexibility for tenants.
“If in future I say I only plan on renting for less than three years, that would reduce my chances of securing a property,” said Mr Pearson.
He said the real problem was the “attitude of estate agents”, who treat tenants as a “commodity” and “charge ridiculous tenancy renewal fees after the 12 month period is up”.
‘Putting down roots’
But Communities Secretary James Brokenshire said it was an important step forward for tenants.
He added: “It is deeply unfair when renters are forced to uproot their lives or find new schools for their children at short notice due to the terms of their rental contract.
“Being able to call your rental property your home is vital to putting down roots and building stronger communities.”
Shadow housing secretary John Healey said: “Any fresh help for renters is welcome but this latest promise is meaningless if landlords can still force tenants out by hiking up the rent.
He said Labour plans included controls on rents, an end to no-fault evictions and protection against substandard properties.
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