The government has announced new plans to scrap ‘no-fault evictions’ for tenants. It has described the plan as the biggest overhaul for renters in a generation.
Under current legislation, landlords have the right to evict tenants with as little as 8 weeks notice once a fixed term contract ends.
Abolishing section 21 evictions would mean the private landlords won’t be able to evict tenants at short notice.
Or without good reason.
Notoriously hard to challenge, section 21 had become one of the leading causes of family homelessness, said the government.
Theresa May said tenants had the right to feel secure in their home. The right to feel settled in their community. And they should be able to plan for the future with confidence.
“Millions of responsible tenants could still be uprooted by their landlord with little notice, and often little justification.”
“This is wrong – and today we’re acting by preventing these unfair evictions. This important step will not only protect tenants from unethical behaviour, but also give them the long-term certainty and the peace of mind they deserve. The abolition of Section 21 notices would also create “open-ended tenancies”.
“An outstanding victory” for renters.
The changes, which Shelter called “an outstanding victory” for renters, will in effect create open-ended tenancies. And give tenants more reassurance that they will not face snap evictions if they complain about the poor quality of their accommodation.
Landlords seeking to evict tenants would have to use the section 8 process under the new proposals. This can be implemented when a tenant has fallen into rent arrears. Or if the tenant has been involved in criminal or antisocial behaviour. Or broken terms of the rent agreement, such as damaging the property.
If landlords want to sell the property or move back in themselves section 8 can be amended to allow this. Unlike section 21, tenants can challenge section eight evictions in court.
Landlords’ representatives are furious.
Not surprisingly, landlords’ representatives are furious. They said the no-fault eviction rules had been used as a way to circumvent lengthy court delays. When landlords needed to evict tenants when they fell into arrears. Buy-to-let lenders are also likely to watch the proposed change closely. They may be less likely to lend if landlords find it harder to evict unruly tenants.
David Smith, the policy director of the Residential Landlords Association, said:
Changes would lead to more cautious investment in buy-to-let properties from landlords and prospective lenders. “For all the talk of greater security for tenants, that will be nothing if the homes to rent are not there in the first place,” he said.
Richard Lambert, the chief executive of the National Landlords Association, said: There was often “no choice” but to use section 21.
“They have no confidence in the ability or the capacity of the courts to deal with possession claims quickly and surely. Regardless of the strength of the landlord’s case,” he said.
More than 4m households, equivalent to around 11 million people are renting privately in England.
The communities secretary, James Brokenshire, said: The housing market had not kept pace with the explosion in the rental market. It would be “the biggest change to the private rental sector in a generation.” Families had the right to build a home without fear of evictions at a moments’ notice.
Polly Neate, Shelter’s chief executive, said: The government would deserve great credit if it delivered on the promise (to scrap no-fault evictions) quickly. The change would transform lives. She said tenants were often given contracts “shorter than your average gym membership. Who live in constant fear of being thrown out at the drop of a hat”.
Shelter also said: It had found that one in five of families who rent privately have moved at least three times in the last five years. One in ten says that a private landlord or letting agent has thrown their belongings out and changed the locks.
The Citizens Advice chief executive, Gillian Guy, said the change was a “groundbreaking shake-up.”
It would prevent landlords from “evicting tenants for simply complaining”.
The most recent research by Citizens Advice suggested that tenants who made a formal complaint about their landlord or the state of their rented home had a 46% chance of being issued with a section 21 eviction notice in the following six months.
The change to section 21, no-fault evictions, was part of a campaign by Generation Rent. Labour and the Green party backed it. 13 local authorities supported the abolition of section 21. These included the inner London boroughs of Lewisham, Southwark and Hackney. And a 50,000 strong petition backed it.
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